After 10 days of denial and deceit, Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., said on Monday that he had lied and made “terrible mistakes” that have deeply hurt his wife and others. Weiner confessed to sending a lewd photo of himself to a college student in Washington state. “To be clear, the picture was of me – and I sent it,” he said.
During a nearly half-hour news conference, Weiner also acknowledged that he has had other “inappropriate” conversations on Twitter, Facebook, and in other ways with six women over the last three years. While he relied on their characterizations of themselves, he said he has no reason to believe any of them were not adults.
But the seven-term congressman insisted that has never had sex with any of these women and never had any direct personal interaction with any of them outside of social media, and that he loves his wife very much.
Weiner also insisted he will not resign from his seat in the House, and does not believe he has done anything that violates the law or his oath of office. (Later Monday, Rep. Nancy Pelosi asked the House Ethics Committee to conduct an investigation). At Weiner's news conference, his voice cracked at times, and he occasionally seemed to fight back tears, particularly when he talked about the pain this has caused his wife, family, staff, and supporters.
Weiner is married to Huma Abedin, a long-time aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whom Weiner described as very disappointed. He said he deeply apologizes to his wife, “and we have no intention of splitting up.”
“I have come here to accept full responsibility for what I’ve done,” said Weiner. "I don't know what I was thinking.''
He called the news conference after the conservative news site BigJournalism.com on Monday published new photographs of what it said appears to be the congressman posing shirtless, which were allegedly sent to an unidentified younger woman.
Weiner said he has not seen those photographs.
BigJournalism.com, which is run by conservative activist Andrew Breitbart, was the same site that reported last week on a lewd photo of bulging underwear sent from Weiner’s Twitter account to a 21-year-old college student. In response, Weiner maintained in a fierce and prolonged media offensive that his account had been hacked and that he was the victim of a prank. He did not, however, deny that he was the male in the photograph in question.
“It was a destructive thing to do,” Weiner said on Monday, admitting he lied about it last week because he was “embarrassed.”
BigJournalism.Com on Monday revealed a second photo of what it said appears to be a shirtless Weiner, sent to a second woman, and also reported that the woman has received other intimate photos from the married congressman. The photo did not show the shirtless man’s full face, but the chin seemed to resemble Weiner’s.
Breitbart told reporters that he deserves “vindication” after attacks from Weiner and his supporters last week.
The episode was reminiscent of events that caused former Rep. Chris Lee, R-N.Y., to resign his seat earlier this year under pressure from GOP leaders after a shirtless photo surfaced of him on Craigslist. But Weiner insists that he will not follow suit and resign.
As National Journal has reported, there could be serious political implications for Democrats if Weiner resigns or is challenged for his seat. His district, which spans Queens and Brooklyn, trended more Republican than any other district in the country from the 2000 to the 2008 presidential election.