Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner of New York has admitted that he sent a lewd photograph of himself from his personal Twitter account to a young woman. The admission came Monday in a news conference in New York City after the congressman had been denying for more than a week that he had sent the photo, and after more embarrassing photos of him surfaced.
A tearful Representative Anthony Weiner took to the podium to say he "made terrible mistakes." He apologized first and foremost to his wife, Huma Abedin, a longtime aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but said he had also disappointed and hurt others.
I have not been honest with myself, my family, my constituents, my friends, and supporters and the media," said Weiner. "Last Friday night I tweeted a photograph of myself that I intended to send as a direct message as part of a joke to a woman in Seattle."
Congressman Weiner said he had meant to send the photo as a direct message to the female college student and “panicked” when he realized he had instead sent it out to all of his Twitter followers. He did a whole day of television interviews last week in which he repeatedly denied that he had sent the photo, saying it was likely a prank and that his Twitter account had likely been hacked.
But during Monday's half-hour news conference he also admitted that he has sent pictures and texts to six women over the past three years. Weiner said he never personally met any of the women he corresponded with online and sometimes by phone over the past three years, and that he was not sure of their ages. He also said he had never had sex outside of his marriage. The 46-year-old congressman got married last year.
Asked by a reporter if he planned to resign, this was Congressman Weiner's answer:
"I am deeply regretting what I have done and I am not resigning," he said.
But House Democratic Minority leader Nancy Pelosi immediately issued a statement calling for an ethics committee investigation into whether Weiner broke House rules and misused official resources, and said that she is "deeply disappointed and saddened about this situation, for Anthony's wife, his family, his staff and his constituents.
Analysts say Weiner may come under pressure from his Democratic colleagues to quickly resign because of the potential political fallout from an embarrassing sex scandal, complete with numerous Internet photos. Several photos surfaced Monday of Congressman Weiner shirtless, flexing his muscles.
These photos were reminiscent of a photo of former Congressman Chris Lee, a New York Republican who abruptly resigned from office earlier this year after a shirtless photo he sent to a woman on Craigslist became public. He was replaced by a Democrat who won a special election in the staunchly Republican district last month.
There have been a number of prominent lawmakers and political leaders caught up in recent sex scandals, and some survive the media spotlight and official investigations and some do not. Republican Senator John Ensign of Nevada resigned in April as he was facing an ethics investigation into evidence that he convinced his parents to pay money to try to cover up an extra-marital affair he had with a campaign aide - the wife of one of the senator's staff members.
Congressman Anthony Weiner has been an outspoken and popular champion of liberal causes such as universal health care, and was viewed as a rising star within the Democratic Party. In fact there was speculation that he was planning to run for mayor of New York City in 2013. Now his political future is in doubt.