Rep. Weiner says he didn’t tweet lewd photo
Rep. Anthony Weiner continued Wednesday to try to extricate himself from allegations that he sent a college student a lewd photo over Twitter, though the congressman’s explanations did little to contain the sordid drama.
Weiner, a brash Democrat from New York who is considered a rising star in his party, maintained that his personal Twitter account had been hacked, but in television interviews he would not say for certain whether the crotch-level photo of a man dressed only in underwear was or was not him.
Weiner denied sending the photo to a 21-year-old female student in Seattle, an incident that became public over the Memorial Day weekend after conservative bloggers circulated the Twitter message.
He said that he had retained a private security firm to look into the matter, but would not call in the Capitol police or the FBI.
“I just don’t think it rises to that level,” Weiner told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. But “I know for a fact that my account was hacked. It happens hundreds of thousands of times every single day.”
Weiner has found himself under siege for two days by reporters who have pressed the married congressmanon whether he posted the photo on Twitter — and whether he sends private messages to young women through the social network.
If the fracas hasn’t put his congressional seat in jeopardy, it has, at least, put a momentary damper on his political prospects. Many think Weiner, 46, will attempt to succeed Michael R. Bloomberg as mayor of New York in 2013. Weiner, in his seventh term, represents parts of Brooklyn and Queens.
At times, the strain has gotten to him. He called a CNN producer a “jackass” in a Capitol Hill hallway on Tuesday. And despite repeatedly telling reporters that he no longer would address the matter, on Wednesday he continued to grant interviews.
“This has gotten crazy,” he said.
The purported target of the photo, identified as Gennette Cordova of Seattle, has denied knowing Weiner or ever meeting him. Weiner is married to Huma Abedin, an aide to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Former President Clinton presided over their heavily publicized marriage ceremony last year.
Weiner’s supporters say the liberal congressman, who regularly debates conservatives on cable news shows, was set up. They noted that Andrew Breitbart, the conservative Internet news entrepreneur who posted videos from a hidden-camera sting against the community group ACORN, seemed to have the details of Weiner’s alleged Twitter message almost immediately.
Breitbart has denied any involvement — and called for a full investigation of the matter.
Weiner has called the incident a “prank” and a “hoax” that merits little further attention.
“When your name is Weiner, you get a lot of people who are doing mischievous things, making jokes about your name,” he told CNN. “That’s what this was, it appears. It was an intention to distract me, maybe make fun of me, maybe mock my name.”
He tried to make light of his wife’s reaction to the brouhaha, saying she was “bemused” by the media attention.
“Hopefully, my marriage survives my first anniversary,” he added.
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