Rep George Santos suggested his five-year-old niece was abducted by Chinese communists, according to reports.
The congressman reportedly told a New York Times journalist his five-year-old niece disappeared from a playground in Queens, only to be found 40 minutes later on a surveillance camera with two Chinese men.
It is unclear when the alleged disappearance happened.
He said the incident was the subject of an active police investigation, and reportedly implied the disappearance may have been in retaliation for his vocal stance against the Chinese Communist Party.
Asked if he thought China was responsible for the incident, he told New York Times journalist Grace Ashford: “Look, I don’t want to go into like, conspiracy theory. But you know, if the shoe fits, right?”
Police confirmed that officers had been called and had looked into the incident, the New York Times reported, but said they found “no evidence of Chinese Communist Party involvement, or of any kidnapping at all.”
“We found nothing at all to suggest it’s true,” a police official said. “I’d lean into, ‘he made it up.’”
Mr Santos is currently facing federal fraud charges, and previously suggested his arrest was linked to his support for the Chinese billionaireGuo Wengui, also known as Miles Guo, a vocal critic of the Chinese Communist Party.
Mr Santos was arrested on 13 federal charges in May, including wire fraud, money laundering, theft of public funds, and making false statements to the House of Representatives.
The congressman described the probe as a “witch hunt”, and in May published a tweet alleging a link between his arrest and his support for Mr Guo.
“I asked questions about #MilesGuo & the DOJ indicts me 5 days later! The fight is real & I’m OVER the target, I need your support to keep me fighting for freedom. #MAGA #TrumpWasRightAboutEverything #StopTheCCP #freeMilesGuo,” he said.
“Chip in today!” he added.
Mr Guo, a self-exiled Chinese businessman, is a close ally of Steve Bannon. The pair lead a group called the New Federal State of China, which claims to be dedicated to overthrowing the Chinese Communist Party.
In March, he was arrested by US authorities on charges for fraud and money laundering. Prosecutors claim he “led a complex conspiracy to defraud thousands of his online followers out of over $1 billion dollars”.
Mr Santos has been a vocal supporter of Mr Guo since his arrest, repeating a conspiracy theory that he was framed by the FBI on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party.
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies