Anthony Weiner Admits Sending Lewd Photos to Women He Met Online
By Nicole Bode and Jill Colvin
MANHATTAN — Embattled Rep. Anthony Weiner admitted Monday that he tweeted a lewd photo of himself to a young woman in Seattle and lied about it for more than a week.
That admission was among numerous online indisretions he admitted to at a hastilly called news conference in Midtown that devolved into a circus at times. He also said he carried on "inappropriate" online relationshios through Facebook and Twitter with at least six women.
"To be clear, the picture was of me and I sent it. I am deeply sorry for the pain this has caused my wife Huma [Abedin]," Weiner said, choking back tears as the camera flashed. "I am deeply regretting what I have done, and I am not resigning."
Some of the online relationships, which Weiner said were consensual and denied ever became physical, occurred after the congressman was married.
"I love my wife very much and we have no intention of splitting up ... We will weather this."
"I have made terrible mistakes and have hurt the people I care about the most and am deeply sorry," Weiner said.
Abedin was not present for the event, which was called fot 4:00 p.m. at the Sheraton Hotel in Midtown. Earlier in the day, a wave of new scantily-clad photos reportedly sent by Weiner to another young woman were released online.
Weiner said he "panicked" after a Twitter message he intended to be sent to one woman accidentally went out to all of his followers, and quickly pulled it down and concocted the story about having been hacked.
"I was embarrassed and I didn't want it to lead to other embarrassing things. It was a dumb thing to do to tell lies about it, because it led to more lies," he said, with his head held low.
"I regret not being honest about this. This was a big mistake. I was embarrassed, I was humiliated. I was trying to protect my wife, I was trying to protect myself from shame, and I really regret it."
"I am deeply ashamed of my terrible judgement," he said.
Still, he said he did not believe he had done anything that violated the law or his oath of office, and pledged to work to re-earn his constituents' trust.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi asked the House Ethics Committee to launch an investigation into whether Weiner broke any House rules.
"I am deeply disappointed and saddened about this situation; for Anthony's wife, Huma, his family, his staff and his constituents," Pelosi said in a statement. "I am calling for an Ethics Committee investigation to determine whether any official resources were used or any other violation of House rules occurred."
Weiner said he did not intend to see professional help.
Before Weiner took the podium, his press conference was hijacked by blogger Andrew Breitbart of the conservative website BigGovernment.com, which first posted the photo of Weiner.
"I'm here to watch myself be vindicated," said Breitbar, who said his integrity had been called into question as Weiner lied.
He discussed additional photos he released earlier Monday that appear to show Weiner shirtless and flexing his pectorals, with what looks like his office in the background, and said he had another "X-rated" photo of Weiner in his possession but would not release it "to save his family."
When the congressman was asked if he could deny the photo was of him, he said he couldn't say for sure.
Weiner has been under attack since Memorial Day Weekend, when a photo he took of his crotch was tweeted from his official Twitter account to a woman in Seattle.
He claimed a hacker had gotten into his account, but then said he could not say with "certitude" that the photo was not of him. He also refused to bring the matter to law enforcement, prompting rampant speculation.
Weiner said his wife and most of his colleagues didn't know the truth until Monday afternoon, shortly before the press conference.
Weiner's outspoken support for healthcare for 9/11 victims earned him the admiration of many New Yorkers.
He was said to be a front-runner to run for mayor, and last year married Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s aide, Abedin.
He declined to comment on how the revelation would impact his political career.
"The last thing on this day when I have done this to my wife and my family.... Is thinking about this election or the one after this," he said.
After a media blitz, Weiner skipped out on public appearances over the weekend, shunning the Celebrate Israel Day parade this past weekend for the first time since he took office.