Rep. Weiner Admits Lying, Sending Lewd Photo, Inappropriate Conversations

Jun 6, 2011
Originally published on June 7, 2011 9:57 am

Saying that "I have made terrible mistakes and have hurt the people I care about the most," a tearful Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) just admitted lying about a lewd photo he sent to a young woman and to having "inappropriate conversations" over social media and on the phone with "six women over the last three years."

He also said he is not going to resign from office.

Update at 5:55 p.m. ET. Pelosi Calls Ethics Investigation:

The AP reports that House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi is calling for an ethics committee investigation into whether Weiner broke House rules.

Update at 5 p.m. ET. Next, The Legal Debate:

The congressman has finished his appearance. He was asked several times if he thought he had done anything illegal. Weiner said no. But it's logical to think that there will be calls for investigations into whether he used government property — a phone, a BlackBerry, a computer — to engage in these activities.

Read down to see more on what he had to say and background on this story. Our colleague Frank James at It's All Politics will have more on the political implications.

Update at 4:50 p.m. ET. ABC News Interview With One Of The Women:

Weiner continues to take questions. Meanwhile, ABC News just posted a story that says his appearance "came as ABC News prepared to release an interview with Meagan Broussard, a 26-year-old single mother from Texas who provided dozens of photos, emails, Facebook messages and cell phone call logs that she says chronicle a sexually-charged electronic relationship with Weiner that rapidly-evolved for more than a month, starting on April 20, 2011."

Update at 4:45 p.m. ET:. Won't Challenge Women's Stories:

Asked if he engaged in phone sex with any of the women, Weiner said that out of concern for their privacy he would not characterize the exchanges. But he also said he would not "rebut anything or dispute anything that any of the women who've come forward are saying."

He said he is "not blaming anyone," that he does not have a drug or alcohol problem, and that "this was me doing a dumb thing ... doing it repeatedly and then lying about it."

Asked if he was sure none of the women who he had exchanges with were minors, Weiner said they had professed on the social media websites to be adults.

He never met any of the women, Weiner said, and added that he has "never had sex outside my marriage."

The congressman married Huma Abedin, a longtime aide to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, last July. He said they have no plans to separate.

Our original post resumes here:

The congressman's statement follows the posting online today of more photos of him that were allegedly sent to women in recent weeks — including some of a shirtless Weiner. The images surfaced on the website of conservative activist Andrew Breitbart.

And, at the tabloid-style website, there's a story today about an unnamed woman who claims she recently engaged in many "sexting" exchanges with the married New York Democrat.

Those reports came on the heels of the news in late May that someone had sent a lewd photo — using Weiner's Twitter account — to a young woman in Washington state. The "crotch shot" image was of an aroused man, in underwear. Over a series of days, Weiner insisted that he had not sent the image to the college student — but also said he could not say with "certitude" that it was not him in the picture.

The photos that came to light today — in particular the shirtless pose — recalled the image that cost Rep. Chris Lee (R-NY) his job back in February. Lee resigned just hours after the photo, which the married congressman had sent to a woman who had posted an ad on Craigslist, was made public by the generally liberal website Gawker.

Weiner, 46, is a native of New York City who spent six years on the New York City Council before starting his House career in 1999.

In 2005, he launched an unsuccessful effort to become the Democratic nominee for mayor of New York, a position he had been expected to vigorously compete for in 2013 when Mayor Michael Bloomberg's third term ends. An April NY1/Marist College poll had Weiner leading — though barely - a pack of potential mayoral contenders. He has reportedly raised more than $5 million for the race.

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At a wild news conference today in Midtown Manhattan, Democratic congressman Anthony Weiner tearfully confessed to sending provocative pictures of himself over the Internet.

R: 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, and our family and my constituents, my friends, supporters and staff.

BLOCK: Well, among the scrum of reporters at the Sheraton Hotel in Midtown Manhattan today was NPR's Robert Smith, who joins me now. And Robert, give us a sense of what it was like there when congressman Weiner appeared and spoke for, gosh, almost 30 minutes.

ROBERT SMITH: Yeah, I mean, you have to understand that all day long, these more explicit photos have been leaking out on the Internet through this conservative website, Big Government, run by Andrew Breitbart. So everyone arrives not knowing whether congressman Weiner is going to resign or not.

BLOCK: So you have this bizarre scene of the man who released the photos making this threat and then a few minutes later, congressman Weiner comes to the podium, chokes up almost immediately and says that, you know, he is deeply ashamed, he's mortified, but he's not resigning.

BLOCK: And Robert, let's go back a bit. This story first began about 10 days ago, or at least the news of it began about 10 days ago. There were first reports of him sending an improper picture over the Internet, then taking it down, and he was vague about whether the picture was him. He was dismissive in a number of interviews.

SMITH: And these relationships, these online relationships, date back about three years.

BLOCK: Yeah, let's listen to a little bit more of what the congressman had to say, referring to these other relationships he had on the Internet.

R: I have exchanged messages and photos of an explicit nature with about six women over the last three years. For the most part, these relations - these communications took place before my marriage, though some have, sadly, took place after. To be clear, I have never met any of these women or had physical relationships at any time.

BLOCK: And Robert, this news conference did go on and on. And while congressman Weiner did, you know, call his actions hurtful and destructive, he did say he feels he can do the people's business: He can fill potholes. He doesn't see the need to resign.

SMITH: Well, you have to realize this went on so long because there are big, unanswered questions - like why. Like, after congressman Christopher Lee resigned for a shirtless photo, after Eliot Spitzer, after all of these scandals, why would a congressman do this? And he didn't really have an explanation. He said there's no deep explanation. You know, he just did a very dumb thing.

BLOCK: Did you use government resources? And he said he didn't use a government BlackBerry; he used his home computer. But he wasn't entirely sure whether he had used the phone or not in this.

BLOCK: But you know, you don't want to hear that from your congressman - to the best of my knowledge, they were all adults.

BLOCK: OK, Robert, thanks very much.

SMITH: You're welcome.

BLOCK: That's NPR's Robert Smith, again on the news today that congressman Anthony Weiner has admitted to inappropriate relationships online, but again, that he says he's going to go back to work. He will not resign from Congress. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.