By Daniel Strauss - 07/24/13 01:41 AM EDT
New York City mayoral candidate and former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday admitted to exchanging additional sexually explicit messages and photos with a younger woman over the Internet — well after the 2011 “sexting” scandal led him to resign in disgrace. [WATCH VIDEO]
In a dramatic press conference, Weiner’s wife Huma Abedin stood by his side as he acknowledged his sexting problem was something the couple dealt with well after his exit from Congress.
Abedin offered her full-fledged support and acknowledged his sexting continued after his resignation.
“It took a lot of work and a whole lot of therapy to get to a place where I could forgive Anthony,” she said in a halting voice while reading a written statement.
“It was not an easy choice in any way, but I made the decision that it was worth staying in this marriage. That was a decision I made for me, for our son and for our family,” she said.
“Anthony’s made some horrible mistakes both before he resigned from Congress and after, but I do believe that is between us and our marriage,” she said
“We discussed all of this before Anthony decided he would 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,” she concluded.
Weiner is a front-runner in the race among Democrats for the mayoral nomination, but the latest sexting scandal — in which he used the alias “Carlos Danger” to send sexually explicit messages and photos to a young woman as recently as last year — threatens his status.
In an editorial published late Tuesday, The New York Times called on the “serially evasive” Weiner to exit the race, taking his “marital troubles and personal compulsions out of the public eye, away from cameras, off the Web and out of the race for mayor of New York City.”
“It’s up to Mr. Weiner if he wants to keep running, to count on voters to forgive and forget and hand him the keys to City Hall. But he has already disqualified himself,” the newspaper’s editorial board wrote.
The New York City mayoral race is being closely followed in Washington partly because of Weiner’s presence, and his surprising surge to the top of the pack.
Abedin is also a fascinating personality to many in Washington given her close ties to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is seen as a likely presidential contender in 2016.
Abedin has worked for Clinton as far back as 1996 when she was a White House intern. Clinton once said if she had a second daughter, it would be Abedin.
When he answered questions on Tuesday, Weiner repeatedly insisted the sexting was behind him even as he was vague about when the behavior had stopped.
“I am prepared not to dispute anything that is out there, but suffice it to say that people are out there saying things that are not true,” he said.
“But that’s not the point. I accept the responsibility for having these conversations with these people who I never met, with exchanging inappropriate things in the context of our marriage, and that was a mistake, and I bear responsibility for that,” he continued.
“That is behind me, and we’re trying to move forward, and we recognize it’s not going to be easy. We knew at the moment we got into this race, it wasn’t going to be easy, but I believe this is an important thing to be doing,” he said.
In a statement before his press conference, Weiner offered apologies to the public and Abedin.
“I said that other texts and photos were likely to come out, and today they have,” the statement said.
“As I have said in the past, these things that I did were wrong and hurtful to my wife and caused us to go through challenges in our marriage that extended past my resignation from Congress,” he said.
“I’ve apologized to Huma and am grateful that she has worked through these issues with me and for her forgiveness,” Weiner continued in the statement. “I want to again say that I am very sorry to anyone who was on the receiving end of these messages and the disruption that this has caused. As my wife and I have said, we are focused on moving forward.”
As “Carlos Danger,” Weiner reportedly shared suggestive images and correspondence on Facebook and a less-famous social networking site called Formspring.
The correspondence appears to be a continuation of the interaction he had with a number of Internet users during and before 2011.
Weiner’s initial sexting scandal went public after he accidentally publicly tweeted a picture of his groin that was meant to be sent as a private message. Weiner eventually admitted to having had sexually explicit contact with other women over the Internet, and in response, top House Democrats pressured Weiner to resign.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel (N.Y.) and Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.) simultaneously called on Weiner to resign from Congress a few days after Weiner’s admission.
Polling after Weiner’s explicit correspondence became public in 2011 showed that a majority of voters in his former congressional district did not want him to resign from Congress.
This report was posted at 5:54 and last updated at 9:41 p.m.