Reporting from Washington — A day after resigning his seat in the face of a House ethics investigation, former Rep. Eric Massa took to the airwaves Tuesday to deny that he had touched a male aide in a sexual manner.
Massa (D-N.Y.) has been the subject of an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment of his staff. He resigned his seat late Monday and went on Fox News' "The Glenn Beck Program" on Tuesday to defend himself and deny new allegations that he had sexually groped a staff member.
"I did nothing sexual," Massa said in a rambling interview. "I did things that were wrong."
But Massa, 50, also said, "Now they're saying I groped a male staffer. Yeah, I did. Not only did I grope him, I tickled him until he couldn't breathe and four guys jumped on top of me. It was my 50th birthday and it was kill the old guy."
The interview -- during which Massa produced a yearbook from his days at the U.S. Naval Academy and a copy of a chest X-ray while discussing his health -- capped a bizarre five days that saw the first-term congressman offer varying explanations for his decision to step down.
As the allegations surfaced last week, Massa, who is married, declared that he would not run for reelection because of health concerns. He later said he would resign immediately as rumors about his behavior swirled.
Over the weekend, Massa took a more defiant stance, suggesting that the ethics investigation had been orchestrated by House Democratic leaders because he voted against their version of the healthcare overhaul in November.
House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) vehemently denied that Tuesday.
"That's absurd," said Hoyer, whose office had forwarded a complaint from a Massa staffer to the House Ethics Committee, which launched an investigation. "That is really untrue."
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs dismissed Massa's remarks as well.
Last Wednesday, "he was having a recurrence of cancer," Gibbs said Tuesday. "On Thursday, he was guilty of using salty language. On Friday, we learned he's before the ethics committee to be investigated on charges of sexual harassment.
"I don't know why I would give any weight to what he said on the fourth day," Gibbs added.
Massa also said Sunday that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel had confronted him naked in the congressional shower in a dispute over the president's budget. He called Emanuel "the son of the devil's spawn."
The House accepted Massa's resignation early Tuesday.
On the Beck program, Massa said that his time in Congress had exhausted him, and that he was leaving to spend more time with his family. He compared his behavior with male workers in his office to the time he had spent in the Navy, producing pictures of men wrestling from his Naval Academy yearbook.
"That looks like an orgy from 'Caligula,' " he said of the photos.
Massa said he blamed himself for the controversy, and backtracked from charges that Democratic leaders had forced him out.
"I should have never allowed myself to be as familiar with my staff as I was," he said. "I take full responsibility for my own actions."
Beck was clearly displeased with Massa's refusal to criticize the administration and congressional Democrats.
"America, I have wasted your time," Beck said at the close of his program.