With his wife at his side, New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner appeared at a hastily scheduled press conference Tuesday evening to address lewd photos and explicit online chats between him and a young woman that were released last night. Weiner stressed his past behavior was “behind” him and his wife even though the new batch of photos and chats occurred in 2012, over a year after he resigned from the House of Representatives due to other explicit online exchanges that became public.
“The resignation was not a point in time that was nearly as important to my wife and me as the challenges in our marriage and the challenges of the things that I had done and working through them,” Weiner said. “Some of these things happened before my resignation, some of them happened after, but the fact is that that was also the time that my wife and I were working through some things in our marriage. I’m glad these things are behind us.”
Weiner and his wife, Huma Abedin, arrived at the press conference about 40 minutes after its scheduled 5 PM start time. By the time they got there, the small room at the at the GMHC Center in Manhattan where he was scheduled to participate in a mayoral forum Tuesday evening was packed wall-to-wall with reporters. Over the sound of countless cameras, Weiner began by reading a statement he initially released in response to the new pictures and messages a few hours earlier. In that statement, Weiner took responsibility for the exchanges and described them as something he indicated was “likely to come out” shortly after he announced his comeback mayoral campaign in May.
“To some degree, with 49 days left until primary day, perhaps I’m surprised that more things didn’t come out sooner. I’m responsible for this behavior that led us to be in this place, but in many ways things are not that much different than they were yesterday,” Weiner said. “This behavior that I did was problematic, to say the least, destructive to my marriage to say the most. I’ve pleased she’s given me another chance. And new yorkers have also given me a second chance.”
After Weiner spoke, Abedin, a close aide to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, made her first major public speech of the campaign. Though she smiled at times, Abedin, who spoke in a soft voice, started by saying she was “very nervous.” She then read a brief statement.
“Our marriage, like many others, has had its ups and its downs. It took a lot of work and a whole lot of therapy to get to a place where I could forgive him,” Abedin said. “Anthony’s made some horrible mistakes, both before he resigned from Congress and after, but I do very strongly believe that that is between us and our marriage. We discussed all of this before Anthony decided to run for mayor, so really what I want to say is I love him, I have forgiven him, I believe in him and as we have said from the beginning, we are moving forward.”
When he began his mayoral bid, Weiner did indeed acknowledge more evidence of his digital dalliances might come out, but the publication of these new photos and videos on the gossip site TheDirty.com was the first indication some of these explicit exchanges occurred after his resignation from Congress. According to The Dirty, the new pictures and chats were produced in the course of an internet relationship that began in July 2012, just six days after Weiner and Abedin appeared together in a People magazine profile where they suggested he had stopped engaging in sexual communications with other women.
“Anthony has spent every day since [the scandal] trying to be the best dad and husband he can be,” Abedin was quoted as saying in that profile.
After they spoke at the press conference, Weiner announced he would take “one or two questions” from the reporters in attendance. TPM asked him when his wife found out he continued to have explicit internet exchanges with other women after his resignation from Congress.
“She knew all along this process, as I was more and more honest with her, I told her everything. So we — this is something we knew going into this conversation about whether or not I would run,” Weiner said.
Weiner was also asked whether he currently continues to have relationships with other women online. He did not answer directly. Rather, he pointed to the fact he acknowledged more exchanges might emerge prior to entering the mayor’s race and implied the issue was now “behind” he and his wife.
“As I said, it’s in our rear view mirror but it’s not far. We still work every day on it,” he said.
Another reporter pressed Weiner about the fact he did not indicate his sexual internet relationships continued after his resignation when he admitted more photos and exchanges might emerge. In response, Weiner dismissed that the date of his resignation was important.
“I said there were more things out there. There were,” said Weiner. “You have as a fixed time the resignation as the important moment in the public discussion. That was when the public got a glimpse into something what we had been working on before, during, and since.”
Weiner continued by claiming he and his wife have resolved their marital issues.
“We put it behind us. I put it behind me,” he said. “Frankly, we’re in a lot better place today or I would not have run for mayor.”
In response to another question, Weiner admitted some of his online romances had occurred after the People profile, but he said he was unable to say precisely when the last exchanges occurred.
“I can’t — I can’t say exactly,” Weiner said, seemingly tripping over his words. “Sometime last summer, I think.”
Prior to this latest scandal, Weiner was leading in some recent polls and was seen as one of the top contenders in the highly competitive mayoral election. Time will tell whether the new revelations dent his standing, which has been at least partially fueled by his scandalous name recognition.
“I’m sure many of my opponents would like me to drop out of the race,” Weiner said when asked about people who might want to see him end his campaign.
The final question of the press conference concerned a claim Weiner made in his initial statement that some of the information published by The Dirty were not “true.” Weiner declined to discuss specific aspects of the reports.
“I’m not going to get into a back and forth with people releasing things, whether they be true or not,” said Weiner. “That’s not the point. I accept the responsibility for having these conversations with these people who I never met.”
Weiner and his wife then made their way out of the room through a back exit. As they exited, a reporter tried to shout out a final question.
“Why should we trust your judgment? Why?”
Weiner offered no response.