Rep. Weiner Knocks Down Questions Over Lewd Photo, Says He Won't Be Distracted
No more Mr. Nice Congressman.
Rep. Anthony Weiner is taking a decidedly aggressive tone as he fends off questions about a lewd photo sent to a from his Twitter account, refusing to say whether he sent the photo or explain why he has not asked the Capitol Police to probe what he initially claimed was a hack.
The New York Democrat, who is known for his combative style in interviews and on the House floor, switched on his testy side as he dueled with reporters late Tuesday. He repeatedly said he would not allow the incident to distract him from his job, as he likened what he described as a "prank" to somebody shouting out an insult or throwing a pie during a speech.
Asked point-blank, "Is that picture you?" Weiner replied, "You know I'm not going to talk about this anymore.
"This is the tactic. The guy in the back of the room who's throwing the pie or yelling out the insult wants that to be the conversation," Weiner told reporters. "But I am not going to allow this thing to dominate what I talk about."
Weiner referred to prior statements his office had put out, indicating he was through talking about the matter.
Though Weiner's office had earlier responded to media inquiries, a few details appear to be keeping the story alive.
Weiner's office initially said the congressman's account was "obviously hacked," but the representative has since taken to calling the incident a "prank." The U.S. Capitol Police so far have not opened an investigation into the matter.
At the same time, Weiner has retained counsel. "They are going to advise us on appropriate next steps," Weiner said Tuesday.
Amid the controversy, a Twitter official emailed security tips to members of Congress regarding their accounts.
"While we won't comment on individual accounts, news reports of the past few days are a good reminder of the importance of actively protecting your account credentials," Twitter's Adam Sharp wrote.
He urged offices to use a "strong password" of at least 10 characters including numbers and symbols, be on the lookout for "suspicious links," and refrain from giving out passwords to "untrusted third-parties."
The photo in question showed a close-up shot of a man's bulging underwear. It was deleted within minutes of being sent. Breitbart's BigGovernment.com first reported that it was tweeted to a Seattle woman, later identified as Gennette Cordova.
Cordova is just one of 198 people that Weiner follows on Twitter, though he has nearly 50,000 followers. Porn star Ginger Lee tweeted last month that she received a direct message from Weiner, and several other attractive women say they've been surprised to get a "follow" or a from the prominent Democrat. Those claims are all circumstantial, but it doesn't help his case should there ever actually be one.
Weiner, 46, is married to Huma Abedin, an aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.