The increasingly bizarre saga of Rep. Anthony Weiner’s (D., N.Y.) scandalous Twitter feed continues to unfold. Weiner just held a chaotic press conference this afternoon outside the House chamber, offering more insight into his self-described “edgy” persona than into the scandal currently surrounding him. For instance, Weiner still would not say whether the photo was of him. “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’s been manipulated, if it was taken out of one place and dropped [somewhere] else,” he said. “I’m going to let this firm get to the bottom of all that.”
He said he has retained an “internet security firm” to give him “advice” on how to proceed but does not see a need for a police investigation. “I don’t believe this is a capital offense, I don’t believe this is a federal case,” he said, claiming the incident was simply a case of someone “making fun of my name” on Twitter in order to “derail” or “distract” him. Because “ordinary citizens” can’t take their cases to the FBI, Weiner suggested, he wouldn’t pursue that route.
“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,” he said. “But if it turns out that there’s something larger going on here then we’ll take the requisite steps.”
“Maybe it will turn out that this is the point of al-Qaeda’s sword,” he joked, before metnioning that he now has more Twitter followers than Michele Bachmann, making him an especially prank-worthy target. In fact, Weiner was full of jokes and did not seem at all stressed by the situation. At one point he apologized for being “a little bit stiff” with reporters yesterday (when he called a CNN producer a “jackass”). The swarm of reporters began to laugh awkwardly as a boyish grin crept across his face. “What?” he asked. “The jokes kind of write themselves.” Earlier in the day, he joked with Paul Ryan outside the House chamber, telling the House Budget chair, “I have more Twitter followers than you.”
Weiner dodged repeated questions as to whether he has even taken pictures of himself in his underwear similar to the photo in question. “There are photos of me in the world,” he said. “I’m trying to draw a line here. I don’t want this to get further.”
I’ll bet he doesn’t.
UPDATE: CNN’s Wolf Blizter grills Weiner on the origins of “randy photo” (Weiner’s words). Video here.
Weiner addresses a Tweet he made prior to the alleged “prank” in which he advertised his 9 p.m. EST appearance on the Rachel Maddow show and concluded with the hash tag #Thats545InSeattleIThink (where the recipient of the “randy photo” currently resides). Weiner called this “a terrible coincidence.”
“Part of the Twitter ethos is there are playful, dopey things — I don’t think it was 5:45 in Seattle — it was a pure coincidence,” he said.
Well at least he knows his time zones.