In a half-hour press conference on Monday, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) admitted that for the past three years he has engaged in sexually explicit communications with women in various online settings, and that he had sent sexually suggestive photographs of himself over the internet. “To be clear, the picture was of me, and I sent it. I’m deeply sorry for the pain this has caused my wife, and our family, my constituents, my friends, my supporters and my staff,” he said. He confessed to lying to cover it up but said that he was not resigning.
Nancy Pelosi, the leader of the minority Democratic group in the House of Representatives, “I am deeply disappointed and saddened about this situation; for Anthony’s wife, Huma, his family, his staff and his constituents” .
Pelosi has called for an ethics committee investigation to investigate him – a move that will pile on the pressure on Weiner who was until recently seen as a rising star of the party.
Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), condemned Weiner’s “deep personal failure” in engaging in the online sexual discussions with at least six women over the past three years, ending by suggesting Weiner has to think about his own decision whether to stay in office.
The National Republican Congressional Committee distributed a memo to reporters with a series of quotes from top Democrats in which they gave Mr. Weiner the benefit of the doubt when the scandal first erupted a week ago.
A spokesman for the committee, Paul Lindsay, said, “It’s time for Democratic leadership to explain why Congressman Weiner’s actions never aroused any suspicion, and why they rushed to his defence while so many Americans were shocked and confused by his bizarre and disturbing behavior.”
“I don’t think it’s a violation of a rule or law,” said Stanley Brand, an ethics lawyer and a former House counsel, he went on to suggest that voters might be the only proper judge and jury. “There are some actions where political or electoral sanction is the only remedy.”
According to Brand, Wiener’s actions — as well as those of former representative Chris Lee (R-N.Y.), who resigned after sending shirtless photos of himself to women he found on Craigslist — have not violated any rules because Congress has not established any for how members should behave on the Internet.