NEW YORK — Anthony Weiner confirmed Tuesday that he was behind a series of newly released explicit messages sent to a woman who was not his wife more than a year after a sexting scandal forced him out of Congress in 2011.
Flanked by his wife, longtime Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, Weiner acknowledged in a press conference Tuesday evening that he continued to send the messages even after he had resigned from Congress,. He said the issue was now "behind" him and that he was no longer in touch with any online paramours.
The generally press-shy Abedin surprised the room by reading a brief statement of support for her husband after Weiner's prepared comments. "Anthony has made some horrible mistakes, both before he resigned from Congress and after," Abedin said, appearing emotional. "But I do strongly believe that that's between us." Abedin added that she's forgiven him after much therapy and wants to move forward. "Our marriage, like many others, has had its ups and its downs."
The Dirty, a gossip website, posted screenshots of exchanges the former congressman had over the social networks Facebook and Formspring with a woman he met online — conversations she says she had with Weiner as late as August 2012, more than a year after he left Congress.
In a statement to reporters Tuesday afternoon, the Democratic mayoral hopeful confirmed he sent the messages, some of which were sent under the name “Carlos Danger.” But Weiner did not address the issue of when the messages were sent until his press conference.
“I said that other texts and photos were likely to come out, and today they have,” Weiner 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.”
Weiner resigned from Congress in June 2011 after he was busted sending explicit pictures and texts to several women. The former lawmaker largely stayed out of the public eye until earlier this year, when he announced he was exploring a last-minute bid to replace outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The ex-lawmaker made his mayoral run official in May — with a video in which he asked the public for a "second chance."
"I made some big mistakes, and I know I let a lot of people down, but I also learned some tough lessons," Weiner declared at the time. "I'm running for mayor because I've been fighting for the middle class and those struggling to make it my entire life. And I hope I get a second chance."
In the weeks since, Weiner has soared to the top of the polls in the Democratic primary, challenging longtime front-runner Christine Quinn. A Quinnipiac poll released last week found Quinn and Weiner statistically tied less than two months before the Sept. 10 primary.
Weiner's strength in the polls caught many of his rivals off guard, including Quinn — who, until recently, had made little mention of the sexting scandal that forced Weiner out of office. But earlier this month, Quinn went after her opponent, linking him to former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who is seeking a return to public office five years after he confessed to having sex with prostitutes.
Quinn said neither man deserved the "second chance" they are seeking from voters.
"What have Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer done to earn that second chance?" she said. "What have they done with their time since their fall from grace that would earn this second chance? I would say not very much.”
Weiner, at the time, declined to respond to Quinn, insisting he was focused on "the issues" in the race.
According to The Dirty, the women who shared her sexts with Weiner says she met the former congressman online last year and had a relationship with him that lasted six months — communicating both over the Internet and via phone.
"She really thought her and Anthony Weiner were in love," Nik Richie, the site's editor, wrote in a message accompanying the release. "They spoke on the phone daily multiple times a day for six months. Anthony Weiner played with her emotions and mind."