Anthony Weiner admitted this afternoon to engaging in lewd sexual exchanges with as many as three women after he resigned from Congress, now putting his total number of online sexual exploits at between six and 10.
Mr. Weiner was once again mobbed by reporters as he attempted to regain his mayoral campaign’s precipitous footing in the wake of new revelations that his sexting continued well over a year after his resignation—and after he and his wife told People magazine he’d become a new man.
Addressing the press at a Jewish food pantry in Flatbush, Brooklyn, Mr. Weiner–who revealed he is still in therapy–was pressed to settle the record on exactly how many women he’d sent lewd texts and photos to.
At first he said, “I don’t have a specific number for you.”
But then he began tallying.
“There are a few. I said at the time of my resignation there were six. I don’t think in total there are more,” he said, before pausing to explain that it’s possible conversations he considered vanilla were misinterpreted. “All I can say to them is … it’s not dozens and dozens. It’s six to 10, I suppose. But I can’t tell you absolutely what someone else is going to consider inappropriate or not.”
As for the number after his resignation, he said, “I don’t believe I had any more than three.
The relentless grilling came as Mr. Weiner attempted–with little success–to change the conversation away from his consuming sex scandal and back to his ideas, including the planned topic of the press conference: creating a cabinet-level “non-profit czar.”
Instead, he was peppered with questions, forcing him to declare again and again that the sexting was truly behind him.
“Look, I have said … there are multiple women over an extended period of time. And these things are very wrong, I deeply regret them. I worked through them with my wife. They’re behind me. That has not changed,” he said, insisting that he avoided discussing more specifics of the timing earlier because he didn’t “want to create a maelstrom for people on the other side.”
“The point is, they’re behind me. It’s a year ago, at least. And I’ve worked through these things, the personal failings that have now caused me great embarrassment because they’ve become public,” he said.
Politicker asked Mr. Weiner how the public could possibly trust him when he’d proclaimed a year ago that the scandal was behind him, too–something we now know was false. But Mr. Weiner maintains he’d been truthful about his misdeeds.
“Well actually, when I announced for mayor and had conversations with many people, many citizens, just about any member of the press that wanted to ask me these questions, I said that these things were behind me. They were then. They are now,” he said. “Now citizens have to decide whether this personal behavior—when one thing happened or it didn’t happen–is important to them. I understand that. All I’m saying is that these things were personal in nature. I’ve worked them out between me and my wife and I’ve gotten them behind me. They’re been behind me for some time now. And it wasn’t until they were behind me that I decided to run for mayor.”
He added, “I understand that might not be a satisfying answer. That people might want names and serial number and dates and texts. But someone else might have to provide that for you because I’m not going to do it. I’m not going to comment on the specifics of these things.”
Mr. Weiner later revealed that he continues to receive professional help, but was vague about what kind.
“I talked about it extensively in the New York Times story, 8,000 some-odd words,” he said. “I sought help. I got help. I sought the help of my wife. And, like problems that people have, this one thankfully is behind me. And this one hasn’t re-occurred … The facts, to a large degree, have not changed.”
He also said he doesn’t believe that he has an addiction, but stopped short of more detail. “I’ll leave it—there’s some things—I want … to have some modicum of privacy between me and the people that are offering me this help.”
But despite playing self-defense, Mr. Weiner wasn’t afraid to take shots at his rivals. Asked to respond to City Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s comments calling his judgment and maturity into question, he quickly fired back.
“Look, you can question my judgment. I didn’t lie to the people of the City of New York and say I wasn’t gonna overturn term limits,” he slammed, arguing that his mistakes “are in the context of my personal behavior in the privacy of my home.”
“I get it. I understand this is fascinating. I understand that I brought it upon myself. But this was a year ago. It was private, embarrassing behavior that became public because I’m running for office. Did you think I did not know when I got into this race that there wasn’t a possibility that something like this would happen?” he later said.
But despite the new revelations, he said he hopes that voters will consider giving him yet another chance.
“If they believe that this is disqualifying—if they believe that this embarrassing personal behavior means that they will never vote for me—I understand that,” he said, insisting he already knew the odds when he jumped into the race. “I want to return to having a conversation. I don’t know if I’ll have a chance to. But I’m certainly going to try.”
Would his policy plans would be derailed by the revelations?
“I don’t have a game plan. I’m just doing what I’m doing,” he said. “I am waging this campaign on a bet. And the bet is, at the end of the day, citizens care more about their own future than my past with my wife and my embarrassing things.”