Rep. Anthony Weiner admitted he sent a photo of his bulging underwear to a female Twitter follower and says he has had inappropriate conversations with as many as six women on Facebook and Twitter over the past three years.
During a tearful news conference on Monday, Weiner apologized to his wife, family, constituents and friends, and said he is “deeply ashamed” but does not plan to resign. He said he does not believe he broke the law.
“I haven’t told the truth, and I’ve done things I deeply regret,” Weiner said, choking up several times. “I brought pain to people I care about the most and the people who believed in me, and for that I’m deeply sorry.”
The 46-year-old Democrat, who was first elected to Congress in 1998, said he has never met any of the women he corresponded with. He said his wife, longtime Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, knew about previous relationships he had before they were married last year, but only found out on Monday morning that he sent the groin photo.
“She deserves much better than this and I know that,” he said. He said they do not plan to divorce.
He said he believed all the women he has corresponded with online were of legal age, but admitted he had no way of knowing for sure.
One of the women, Meagan Broussard, 26, has said in various media reports that their online relationship began after she “liked” a video of Weiner on Facebook. She commented that it was “hot,” and they began chatting.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi called for an Ethics Committee investigation “to determine whether any official resources were used or any other violation of House rules occurred.”
Weiner said in a statement that he would cooperate.
Weiner said Monday that when he realized he sent the photo 10 days ago publicly on Twitter, he “panicked” and began making up the story that he maintained until Monday.
He first insisted that his Twitter account had been hacked, but also told MSNBC he could not say “with certitude” whether he was the man in the photo.
On Monday he said that those statements were lies.
“I was embarrassed and I didn’t want it to lead to other embarrassing things,” Weiner said. “It was a dumb thing to do to try to tell lies about it, because it always leads to more lies… I knew I was putting people in a bad position and I didn’t want to continue doing it.”
Before the press conference began Monday, conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart, who runs biggovernment.com, took to the podium and began taking questions from reporters.
Breitbart said that a woman approached him on Friday and told him she had been engaging in an online “sexting” type of relationship with Weiner. It was not the same woman as the college student who received the Twitter pic.
Breitbart said he has other photos and communications between the congressman and the woman. He posted a few shirtless shots on his website Monday.
Breitbart claimed he has more photos that are “of an X-rated nature.”