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Weiner calls lewd photo on Twitter a ‘distraction’

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Rep. Anthony Weiner repeatedly declined to answer questions Tuesday about a lewd photograph that showed up on his Twitter feed over the weekend, an incident the New York Democrat has said was the work of a hacker.

Weiner told reporters that he had answered enough of their questions about the matter and that the incident was “a distraction.”

“Look, I’m not going to allow this to be what I talk about all week,” the seven-term lawmaker said on his way into a closed-door meeting of House Democrats on Tuesday night. “That’s the idea of a distraction; I’m not going to let it be successful.”

Weiner, 46, has hired a lawyer to look into the matter. Several senior Democrats, including House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer (Md.) and Sen. Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.), have defended him, but some conservative writers want him to explain some of the details of the incident.

Sgt. Kimberly Schneider, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Capitol Police, said Tuesday that the Capitol Police force “does not have an active, open investigation” into the alleged hacking. Lindsay Godwin, a spokeswoman for the FBI’s Washington Field Office, said the office had no information to provide.

BigGovernment.com, the Web site of conservative commentator Andrew Breitbart, first reported on the tweeted photo of a man’s underwear-clad groin, which was addressed to a journalism student in the Seattle area. Neither Weiner nor his spokesman has said whether the photo was of Weiner.

Soon after it was posted on Weiner’s Twitter feed, it was deleted, along with the other photos in the congressman’s account on yfrog.com, an image-hosting site often used in connection with Twitter.

After the photos were deleted, Weiner indicated on Twitter that his account had been hacked, and he jokingly brushed off the incident. A spokesman said Sunday that Weiner “doesn’t know” the Seattle student, Genette Nicole Cordova.

Cordova told the New York Daily News in a statement late Sunday that she thought the tweet was sent from a hacker who “had harassed me many times after the Congressman followed me on Twitter a month or so ago.”

“Since I had dealt with this person and his cohorts before, I assumed that the tweet and the picture were their latest attempts at defaming the Congressman and harassing his supporters,” Cordova said.

Weiner last year married Huma Abedin, a former top aide to then-Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) during the 2008 presidential campaign. Abedin works as a senior adviser to Clinton at the State Department.

Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), chairman of a House subcommittee on oversight and investigations, told the conservative Daily Caller Web site Tuesday that he thinks the incident calls for an investigation into cybersecurity issues.

Asked to comment on Stearns’s statement, Weiner said, “I don’t respond to distractions, particularly ones named Cliff Stearns.”

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