Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) acknowledged inappropriate internet relationships with at least six women but said he would not resign or get divorced.
Weiner, who represents central Queens, the Rockaways and parts of Brooklyn, said he had lied last week when he denied sending a lewd underwear photo to a 21-year-old college student over Twitter and claimed that his account had been hacked.
"I’ve brought pain to people I care about the most and people who believe in me," Weiner said at a news conference Monday. "I apologize to my wife and family I apologize to my friends and supporters."
Weiner, one of the most hawkish pro-Israel lawmakers, said none of the relationships had ever become physical, nor had he met any of the women, but said he had "inappropriate conversations" via Twitter, Facebook and telephone. He declined to characterize the relationships further out of respect for the privacy of the women involved.
His voice cracking when he discussed the impact on his new marriage with Huma Abedin, an aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton whom he wed last summer, Weiner said he would consider seeking professional help to deal with the issues that caused him to behave destructively. He said he had told Abedin about his relationships with women through social media prior to their marriage but did not tell her he had lied about the underwear photo until this morning.
The confessions came as a conservative web site, Biggovernment.com, run by Andrew Breitbart, was publishing new photos it said were supplied by women who received them from Weiner, including several of him shirtless and one with a lewd pun involving cats. ABC News also said it had photos and an interview with a woman who says she had an online relationship with Weiner beginning in April.
He did not address whether he would still seek his party’s nomination for mayor in 2013. He stopped taking questions when someone in the audience began to shout out erratic questions. News reports said the questions came from a correspondent for a radio program.
Weiner was widely considered a well-funded, major player in the race to succeed Michael Bloomberg. He said he would not blame voters if they took his actions into account when he faced reelections next year. "People who draw conclusions about me are free to do so," he said.
But Weiner, who was elected to succeed Charles Schumer in 1998, when Schumer became a senator, insisted he did not believe he had broken any laws or congressional rules. He said he had used only his own BlackBerry and computer to communicate with the women and did not believe any of the recipients were minors.
"Nothing about this should reflect in any way on my official duties or on my oath of office," he said.
Weiner denied sending the photo for almost a week, fueling intensive media coverage saturated with lewd puns, before he stopped taking questions about it over the weekend and surprised many people by not showing up to the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty’s Legislative Breakfast or the Celebrate Israel Parade, both held on Sunday. He has been a regular at those events in the past as a city councilman and congressman.