Reporting from Washington — A day after hiring a lawyer to look into the online mini-drama now dubbed “Weinergate,” Rep. Anthony Weiner said that he wants to move on.
“I’m going to return to working on the things I care about,” the New York Democrat told reporters at the Capitol on Tuesday. “This is a distraction, and I’m not going to let it distract me.”
Weiner said his Twitter account was hacked after a photo of a crotch-level photo of a man wearing a bulging pair of underwear was sent via the social network to a Seattle college student over the weekend.
The message and photo were then circulated by several conservatives on Twitter — leading Weiner’s supporters to suggest it was part of a smear campaign. The Brooklyn-born liberal, who is often mentioned as a possible successor to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, regularly debates Republicans on cable news channels.
The student, Gennette Cordova, in a statement to the New York Daily News, denied any relationship with Weiner.
"I have seen myself labeled as the 'Femme Fatale of Weinergate,' 'Anthony Weiner's 21-year-old coed mistress' and 'the self-proclaimed girlfriend of Anthony Weiner,' " Cordova wrote. “All of this is so outlandish that I don't know whether to be pissed off or amused, quite frankly.”
Cordova, who had called Weiner "my boyfriend" in tweets, said she had been harassed online by critics of Weiner. She said she had never met the congressman or spoken to him privately.
Weiner, 46, is married to Huma Abedin, an aide to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. He first made light of the incident in a Tweet, writing: "Tivo shot. FB hacked. Is my blender gonna attack me next? #TheToasterIsVeryLoyal"
His office said he had retained an attorney to advise about possible claims in the case. But Weiner said Tuesday that he was done talking about it.
"I participated in the story a couple of days now, given comments on it," he said.
He refused to answer media questions asking why he was following a 21-year-old woman on Twitter. (Twitter prevents a user from sending a so-called direct message to another user without a “following” relationship.)
The incident has been detailed at length on BigGovernment.com, the conservative site run by noted prankster Andrew Breitbart, who hatched a hidden-camera sting against ACORN, leading some on the Web to suggest he was behind the photo.
Interviewed on CNN on Tuesday, Breitbart denied any involvement but called for a full investigation into the matter.