Steve Cohen (Alex Wong / Getty Images)

Amid the murky drama of the woman who turned out not to be a congressman’s secret daughter, Rep. Steve Cohen has now provided a poignant bit of clarity.

How, in the absence of genetic evidence, did he come to believe that Victoria Brink was his long-lost child? Maybe because he wanted her to be his daughter.

“I didn’t have children. I was thrilled to have a daughter,” the Tennessee Democrat told CBS in a new interview. And so he didn’t order DNA tests immediately. “I didn’t want for her to think in any way that I was somehow questioning the relationship or trying to avoid the relationship.”

The DNA tests didn’t come until this week, three and a half years after the congressman was introduced to Brink, 25, by her mother, Cynthia Sinatra, a Texas lawyer with whom he had a long-ago interlude. Cohen has said he lost track of his ex-girlfriend until he Googled her a few years ago and discovered she had a child whose age corresponded to their time together.

The results of the tests, as shown in a CNN report Thursday: That the woman’s real dad was not Cohen, but Sinatra’s ex-husband John Brink — the man she’d originally been raised to believe was her father. (Sinatra has not returned calls or spoke to the media.)

Which apparently left Cohen trying to make sense of the belated father-daughter relationship he’d struck up with the young woman. “I was totally stunned,” he told CBS. “I loved her, did everything in the world for her, tried to show her what I can, of my world.” What happens next in their relationship is unclear, he said, though “I care about her, she’s a very sweet young lady.”

Said Cohen, “For three and a half years I had a daughter and it was nice to care about somebody and share.”

Earlier: Rep. Steve Cohen’s “secret daughter” is not his daughter, DNA tests show, 7/18/13

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