Anthony Weiner admits he sent photo, but won’t resign
Rep. Anthony Weiner said Monday that he had lied about the origins of a lewd photo sent from his personal Twitter account nine days ago although he added that he would not resign from office because of the scandal.
“I have not been honest with myself,” Weiner said at a press conference in New York City Monday afternoon. “I am deeply ashamed of my terrible judgment.”
He added that he would not resign his office; “Nothing about this should reflect on my official duties or oath of office,” he said, adding that he didn’t believe any government resources were misused.
But after his news conference, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced that she was calling for a House ethics committee probe into whether government resources had been mishandled.
“I am calling for an Ethics Committee investigation to determine whether any official resources were used or any other violation of House rules occurred,” Pelosi said.
Pelosi added that she was “deeply disappointed and saddened” for Weiner’s wife and constituents.
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) agreed that an ethics panel must review the situation in order to “remove all remaining doubt about this situation.” “Ultimately, Anthony and his constituents will make a judgment about his future,” Israel said in a statement.
Weiner had previously refused to answer questions about the episode in which a picture of an underwear-clad groin was sent to a college student in Seattle. He said at the press conference that he had meant to send a direct message to the woman and “panicked” when he realized he had instead sent it out to all of his Twitter followers.
The New York Democrat added that he had engaged in other online relationships with women, though no physical contact ever resulted. Asked directly whether there were other X-rated photos of him on the Internet, Weiner declined to comment. He did say “inappropriate things were sent by me” to the women.
In the press conference, Weiner acknowledged that one of the women with whom he had engaged in inappropriate online conduct was a 26-year-old single mother and Texas woman named Meagan Broussard. ABC News is reporting that Broussard has numerous photos, emails and text messages detailing a “sexually-charged electronic relationship” with the woman.
In a surreal and circus-like moment, Andrew Breitbart, the conservative activist whose BigGovernment.com and BigJournalism.com Web site published shirtless photos of Weiner earlier on Monday, actually took to the stage prior to Weiner’s expected statement to address the assembled reporters.
“Everything we have reported about this story has been true,” Breitbart said during the impromptu press conference. Breitbart added that he had “at least one more photo” of the congressman.
Weiner’s press conference was the latest episode in a scandal that has captivated the political world as the lawmaker, long seen as a rising star within the party, has struggled to deal with the fallout from the allegedly lewd Tweet.
When it began to draw national attention, Weiner said he had been the victim of a “prank” but refused -- in a series of media interviews -- to answer whether the picture of a man’s underwear-clad groin was in fact him.
Rather than blunt the controversy, however, Weiner’s non-denial denials only stirred the pot further. His pledge to get back to work and offer no more public comment on the matter was disrupted by the new images that surfaced on Monday.
Democratic leaders privately fumed that Weiner’s foibles were overshadowing the party’s broader message on Medicare - particularly in the wake of the surprising victory by Rep. Kathy Hochul (D) in the New York 26th district special election.
Weiner’s 9th district, which takes in parts of Brooklyn and Queens, is surprisingly competitive between the parties although any Democrat would likely be favored in any special election or open seat scenario.
Paul Kane contributed to this report.