Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Queens and Brooklyn) maintained his media silence Wednesday as the scandal over erotic photos, text messages and alleged conversations between himself and at least half a dozen young women across the country continued to develop.
New aspects of the congressman’s admitted improprieties and resulting political and personal crises were being reported by the hour ever since the tearful Monday press conference at which he admitted the raunchy photo that launched the matter was in fact his, and apologized for lying about it.
One woman said the congressman had in fact contacted her from his office in the Capitol, which would be a breach of House ethics rules. Transcripts of sexually explicit online conversations in which he discussed his state of arousal were released. One report said that one of the girls whose Twitter feed he had been following was only 16, though there was no claim of any sexual subject matter in their messaging. Twitter is the text and photo service that allows users to send information to multiple users at once, and was the forum on which the first sexually oriented photo of Weiner appeared.
Late Wednesday afternoon, The New York Times reported that Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin, is pregnant, according to knowledgeable sources. Abedin, a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, has not spoken about the scandal publicly since it broke.
During his press conference, Weiner said his wife was extremely disappointed by the revelations and that he hopes to make it through the first year of their marriage. They were married in July 2010.
The congressman said he had not had an actual relationship with any of the women and that his wife knew about some of the online contacts before they were married. He said, however, that she did not know until Monday that the first photo, one of an aroused man in his underwear, was his.
On the political front, Weiner’s fellow Democrats have largely offered him little support. The Queens Democratic Organization has issued no statements since the scandal erupted and did not immediately respond to a request for comment. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called for the House Ethics Committee to launch an investigation of Weiner’s activities as soon as he admitted that the photo that sparked the scandal was indeed his. And on Tuesday Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) said that he is unable to defend the congressman, and that if he called him for advice, he would advise him to call someone else.
The House Republican leadership has been calling for Weiner to resign, and on Wednesday Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-Penn.) became the first House Democrat to say publicly that he should step down.
In Queens, Matt Turner, the spokesman for and son of Weiner’s last GOP challenger, Bob Turner of the Rockaways, also said he should leave office.
“We’re saddened for Congressman Weiner as an individual, but we think he absolutely should resign,” Turner said, asserting that Monday’s press conference shows that Weiner continues to lie about the scandal. The congressman had said he had not coached any of the women on what to say if questioned about the matter, but one of them said later that he had in fact advised her and even offered to let his public relations people help her deal with the notoriety.
Asked if his father might run for the seat again, Turner said he is taking a wait-and-see approach but would seriously consider it if the Republican Party asked him to.
Weiner said Monday that he intends to stay in office. He repeatedly and tearfully said he was apologizing to his wife, family, staffers, the media and everyone else he had lied to.
“I’ve brought pain to people I cared about the most, and people who believed in me, and for that I am terribly sorry,” he said.
Pressed by a reporter, Weiner eventually apologized specifically to Andrew Breitbart, the conservative blogger who first reported the existence of the photo that started the scandal two weeks ago. In an unexpected turn of events, Breitbart himself went to the Manhattan hotel where the press conference was to take place and took over the mike before Weiner arrived, to tell his side of events.
Weiner also said that his terrible personal judgment does not reflect on his service in office, but that if a constituent decided to no longer support him over the controversy, he would understand. He alternately described his actions as shameful, inappropriate, dumb, destructive and other similar words. He also said, in response to a question, that alcohol was not a factor in what he did and that he does not use drugs.
Weiner had been considered a top candidate for mayor in 2013 before the scandal broke.