NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Embattled Rep. Anthony Weiner has come clean.
At a tense press conference on Monday, the six-term New York Democrat admitted to posting a lewd photo of himself on Twitter. The stunning turnaround came following a week of him issuing nothing but denials and often getting surly with reporters, before cutting them off completely.
While addressing the media at the Sheraton Hotel in Midtown Manhattan, Weiner made the following statement: “Last Friday night I tweeted a photograph of myself that I intended to send as direct message as part of a joke to a woman in Seattle. Once I realized I posted it to Twitter, I panicked, I took it down and said that I had been hacked. I then continued with that story to stick to that story which was a hugely regrettable mistake.”
Weiner apologized to the Seattle student, who was on the receiving end of the tweet.
Sources told CBS 2 that Weiner decided over the weekend that he would go public with his admission, but had not set a date to do so. Those sources said the release of new photographs forced him to call Monday’s press conference.
“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,” Weiner said.
Sources also said that Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin, was willing to stand by her husband as he addressed the media, but that Weiner insisted she not be there, saying “it’s my responsibility. I’ll deal with it.”
In addition, the congressman said that “over the past few years I have engaged in several inappropriate conversations conducted over Twitter, Facebook, e-mail, and occasionally on the phone with women I have met online.”
Weiner said he “exchanged messages and photos of an explicit nature with about six women over the last three years.” He said “most” of the communications took place before his marriage, but admitted some took place afterward.
One of those women was Meagan Broussard, a 26-year-old single mother from Texas. She told ABC News that Weiner was “eager to hear about if I wanted him or thought he was attractive.”
Earlier, conservative author Andrew Breitbart posted two pictures of Weiner on his website BigGovernment.com, which Breitbart claimed were e-mailed to a young woman, who turned out to be Broussard.
Breitbart said the photographs were sent to the woman from Weiner’s AOL email account via his BlackBerry on May 4
Weiner said that despite his online relationships, he has never met any of the women or “had any physical relationships at any time.”
The Brooklyn and Queens congressman said that he may seek professional help, but tried to take responsibility for his actions stating “this is my own personal mistake. This is a deep weakness that I have demonstrated.”
Weiner also said he would not resign and that he did not believe that he did anything that broke the law. He said he doesn’t believe he used government resources in sending the messages, and that his staff did not know he had done so.
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“I’m not resigning, and I’m going to try very hard to go back to work a better man and a better husband, too,” he said.
However, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has called for an ethics committee investigation to see if House rules were broken. Weiner’s office released a statement shortly thereafter saying “I welcome and will fully cooperate with an investigation by the House Ethics Committee.”
When asked if he would split from his wife, Weiner said he loved wife Abedin very much and that they would not split.
Speaking before Weiner at the same hotel, Breitbart said “everything we’ve reported about this story has been true.”
Weiner came under fire last week for a suggestive photo sent from his Twitter account of a man in grey underwear to a 21-year-old woman.
Before speaking to the media Monday, the congressman had adamantly denied that he sent the photo and claimed he was the victim of a prank.
Weiner had initially said that he was the victim of a hacker and that retained a lawyer to advise him on what legal action should be taken. His spokesman Dave Arnold had previously said the congressman’s “accounts were obviously hacked.”
The “crotch” photo was first reported Saturday by BigGovernment.com.
After his press conference, Congressman Weiner left the hotel through a back way followed by photographers.
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