*Warning: The following report includes lewd content. The language has been transcribed verbatim to highlight the inappropriate behavior of a Member of Congress, especially in reference to jokes of a sexual nature he made to women in a professional setting.
The high value target for reporters on Capitol Hill on Wednesday was Rep. Anthony Weiner. However, the New York Democrat looked non-plussed as he strode off the floor of the House of Representatives after casting several votes on appropriations bills.
Mr. Weiner is the subject of a sexual scandal involving a close-up photo of a male crotch sent from his Twitter account to a female college student. He denied sending the photo, but refused to say whether the photo is of himself in gray underwear. He has claimed that his account was hacked, but refuses to report the internet cyber security issue to the U.S. Capitol Police or any other law enforcement agency.
I saw the congressman walk out the the glass doors that lead off the House floor to the Speaker’s Lobby, an area reserved only for the media to interview Members as they go to and from votes. As he walked into the hallway, I quickly turned to approach him. To my shock, he stopped directly in front of me and offered to answer questions. He stood a mere six inches away from me while he rebutted our questions, while bizarrely making repeated penis jokes.
You can click to listen to the audio of Mr. Weiner’s off-camera press conference today. I missed taping the first minute of the impromptu event because I was fumbling to get my tape recorder and hit record while he stood so close to me. Here are some of the highlights, or rather lowlights, of the encounter:
Weiner: We don’t know where the photograph came from. We don’t know for sure what’s on it. We don’t know for sure if it was manipulated. If it was taken out of one place and dropped something else. And I’m going to let this firm get to the bottom of all that. Jon Stewart might have actually been right last night.
The comedian Jon Stewart and Rep. Weiner have been friends for 25 years and used to stay at the same beach house in Dewey Beach, D.E.
Miller: Are there pictures out there of you have undressed? Do you have pictures that exist?
Weiner: You know this is part of the problem with the way in which this has progressed and one of the reasons that I was, perhaps — you’ll forgive me — a little bit stiff yesterday…. [laughter as Weiner smirks at a male reporter]
Reporter: We’ve used the word firm, we’ve used the word…
Weiner: Can I ask, is there a weiner joke that hasn’t been used in this context?
Miller: You’re making them all, though…
Weiner: I’m making them all?
Miller: You’re making all those….
Weiner: I would refer you to any of the coverage of this case, the jokes kind of write themselves.
Mr. Weiner’s penis jokes didn’t stop there.
Miller: How did someone get a picture of you in your underwear, if that’s possible?
Weiner: We don’t know where this photo came from, if it’s been manipulated, which is a possibility. As Jon Stewart alluded to last night, there are reasons to believe it might have been. [Weiner smiled at a male reporter and laughed.]
On his Tuesday night show, Mr. Stewart made the joke that he remembered his friend as being less well-endowed. “In real life, my memory is this cat had a lot more Anthony and a lot less Weiner. This is not what I remember,” said the Comedy channel host.
Weiner spoke about being a private citizen and said the whole incident was about getting spam.
Weiner: We don’t know that it’s a police matter. I got spam yesterday….
Reporter: How can it not be?
Weiner: How can it not be? Very easily. Every day all of us get spam. Every day all of us have people responding to us, ‘“ can’t believe you’re sending me this.”
Reporter: You’re a Member of Congress
Weiner: I’m a Member of Congress. I’m also a citizen. There’s nothing official about someone sending… by the way….
Miller: You’re standing in the Speaker’s Lobby, having 40, 75 reporters around you. If this is an issue of the Capitol Police, if this is….
Miller: Because you’re a Member of Congress standing in this Capitol…
Weiner: But a Member of Congress doesn’t mean when someone sends a piece of spam to my account, doesn’t make it a federal offense
Miller: But this whole issue could go away….
Weiner: I am trying to find out, and I think I have taken steps to do so. If you’ll forgive me, I know we’re now in the weeds of a particular issue. If you can take a step back— not literally— you can step as close as you like.
Let’s remember what happened here. A congressman named Weiner who has a rather edgy, perhaps aggressive Twitter feed. Where he was spending the whole day poking at Clarence Thomas, gets a Twitter picture of fill in the blank.
This was a prank, intended to derail me or distract me, whatever it is. It is not a federal case. Now maybe it will turn out —- forgive me —- that this is the point of al Qaeda’s sword [laughter] …
and that this is the effort, this is where it’s going to begin. And I’ve asked internet security to take a look at my private internet feed. my private twitter feed that has 45,000 followers, more than Michele Bachmann, I want to point that out, I finally passed her.
At the end of the media scrum, Mr. Weiner said loftily that that there were areas of the scandal which he would not discuss. He said that “at some point I have to draw a line and I’m drawing that line now”, and then he went on CNN and Fox News.
Listen to the full audio of Mr. Weiner here.