Anthony Weiner's Twitter-picture scandal, from start to finish
Are you having as hard a time following the sequence of events in “Weinergate” as we are? Here’s a look at the basic timeline, as best as we can determine. We’ll continue to update as we learn more.
June 16: 2:00 p.m. ET: Rep. Weiner announces his resignation from Congress. Holding a press conference at the senior center in Brooklyn where he made his first foray into politics 20 years ago, he says, “I had hoped to be able to continue the work that the citizens of my district elected me to do [but] the distraction that I have created has made that impossible.”
Weiner appears without his wife, and is heckled repeatedly by a member of the audience who shouts obscene questions. (Politico’s Maggie Haberman tweets from the conference that this is the same heckler who shouted at Weiner during his June 6 press conference.)
See Weiner’s statement here (video via Mediaite):
June 15: Former porn actress Ginger Lee holds a press conference with her lawyer, Gloria Allred. During the course of the event, Allred reads excerpts from some of the messages Weiner sent to Lee via Twitter. Watch it here.
June 13: President Obama — addressing Weiner’s dirty-picture scandal directly for the first time — tells Today’s Ann Curry in an interview: ”[I]f it was me, I would resign. Because public service is exactly that: It’s a service to the public. And when you get to the point where, because of various personal distractions, you can’t serve as effectively as you need to … then you should probably step back.”
June 12: TMZ releases new images of a “clothed and partially nude” Anthony Weiner, taken by the congressman at the House of Representatives’s Members Gym and “sent online to at least one woman.”
Later, The New York Daily News claims that Weiner is “finally considering he may have to resign.” According to the Daily News:
A source close to the congressman told the Daily News that he had been adamant about keeping his seat – even amid daily new revelations of his reckless sexting.
But the unrelenting media coverage, the demands from his party’s leaders that he step down and the appearance of more humiliating photos made Weiner realize he may not be able to bull his way through the crisis after all, the source said.
The article adds that Senator Chuck Schumer and Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin, are two people whose advice Weiner values most highly; neither has yet called on him to resign.
June 11: DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and House Democratic Nancy Pelosi both call on Weiner to resign. Wasserman Schultz says the “sordid affair” is now an “unacceptable distraction for both Weiner and his party.
Weiner does not indicate that he will resign. However, he is reportedly seeking a leave of absence from the House of Representatives. AP reports:
Rep. Anthony Weiner is asking for a temporary leave of absence from the House while he seeks professional treatment in the wake of his Twitter scandal.
A spokeswoman for the New York Democrat says he has left for professional treatment and will focus on “becoming a better husband and healthier person.”
June 10: Fox News reports that police in Delaware are “investigating direct online communications between New York Rep. Anthony Weiner and a 17-year-old girl.” According to Fox:
Sources close to the student said the girl followed Weiner on Twitter after seeing him speak during a school trip to Washington on April 1. Weiner, after signing on to follow the girl’s Twitter feed, direct-messaged the girl on April 13, the sources said, though it is not clear what other communication the two may have had between or after those dates. Weiner no longer follows the girl on Twitter.
Weiner’s spokeswoman denies that the messages were “explicit or indecent.”
June 9: The New York Post interviews Rep. Weineefly on the street in Manhattan. When asked about his wife’s reported pregnancy, he says he has “no comment.”
June 8: Early afternoon: Andrew Breitbart appears on Sirius XM’s Opie & Anthony radio show. While in the studio, he displays the “X-rated” Weiner image he’s claimed to possess, showing it to the radio hosts on his BlackBerry. The hosts proceed to share an image of the lewd picture — which they say they unwittingly “captured” on video before Breitbart left — with the general public; it quickly makes the rounds on Twitter. Read Justin Elliott’s piece on this here.
Later, on Big Government, Breitbart claims this photograph “was released without [his] knowledge or permission.” He writes: “Somehow … apparently a picture was taken of my mobile device, and subsequently published by Opie (Gregg Hughes) on Twitter. … I regret that this occurred.”
5:40 p.m. ET: Anthony Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin, is “in the early stages of pregnancy,” according to the New York Times. Abedin has stayed away from the spotlight since Weiner’s admission earlier this week, and she hasn’t yet commented on the pregnancy speculation.
June 7: 4:00 a.m. ET: TMZ reveals that Rep. Weiner “instructed one of his Internet women” — porn actress Ginger Lee — “how to lie about their relationship … and even offered PR help from his team, which could create major legal issues for him.”
Apparently, Weiner e-mailed Lee (with whom he had been conducting an online relationship for “a long period of time”) several days after the current Twitter-picture media maelstrom began, asking if she wanted advice about dealing with awkward questions. TMZ elaborates:
Weiner put on a full court press, urging Lee to lie about their relationship. On June 1, he emailed her: “The key is to have a short, thought out statement that tackles the top line questions and then refer people back to it. Have a couple of iterations of: ‘This is silly. Like so many others, I follow Rep. Weiner on Twitter. I don’t know him and have never met him. He briefly followed me and sent me a dm saying thank you for the follow. That’s it.’”
Weiner suggested a nice touch — some good ol’ Southern charm: “And then maybe insert some y’alls in there.”
Also, The New York Post publishes excerpts from Rep. Weiner’s Facebook conversations with Las Vegas blackjack dealer Lisa Weiss.
Later: Andrew Breitbart does an interview on “The Today Show,” in the course of which he tells Matt Lauer he will not release the “X-rated” photograph of Rep. Weiner he allegedly possesses. Of Monday’s press conference, he says he “felt … unbelievably bad” for Weiner.
June 6: Morning: Andrew Breitbart claims his websites Big Government and Big Journalism were “approached” with “photographs, chats, and emails” from a woman claiming to have been in contact with Rep. Weiner over the internet “more than a week prior to the separate, independent event of Friday, May 27, 2011, when a link to the now-infamous ‘gray underwear’ photograph appeared publicly on Rep. Weiner’s Twitter feed.” Breitbart writes:
The detailed new information suggests that the Brooklyn- and Queens-based representative and the young woman in question were involved in an online, consensual relationship involving the mutual exchange of intimate photographs.
He says photos and other relevant details will be posted on Big Government and Big Journalism “throughout the day” on Monday, adding: “[W]e will not be releasing all of the material because some of it is of an extreme, graphic nature.”
One of the first images to be released shows Weiner sitting on the floor with two cats. Big Government writes: “[This] photograph was allegedly sent to the young woman from AnthonyWeiner@aol.com via BlackBerry on Wednesday, May 4, 2011, under the subject, ‘Me and the pussys.’”
Early afternoon: Andrew Breitbart posts what appear to be topless photos of Rep. Weiner, at least one of which was allegedly sent to an unidentified young woman over email. Breitbart claims that the “now-infamous grey underwear photograph” was emailed to the same woman on Wednesday, May 18 — and adds that he believes another, more graphic image (which he will not upload) was also emailed to the woman by Rep. Weiner. You can see Breitbart’s full post here — and here’s the shirtless photo Weiner allegedly sent to his anonymous email correspondent:
Additionally, RadarOnline and Star magazine claim to have access to “a sexting exchange” between an unidentified “middle-aged” woman from Nevada and Rep. Weiner. According to RadarOnline.com, “the woman says she has 200 sexually explicit messages from Weiner from a Facebook account the Democratic politician no longer uses”; she also alleges she “once had a 30 minute phone sex session with Weiner on his government provided telephone.”
Around 4 p.m. ET: Weiner admits to reporters at a press conference that he did send the obscene tweet that has brought him into the public eye over the course of the last ten days. He says he is embarrassed, but will not resign.
The congressman, appearing without his wife in New York city, says he had meant to send the crotch-shot image on the night of Friday May 27th as a direct message to a Seattle-based Twitter correspondent as part of a “joke.” He acknowledges that he has made a “big mistake” in lying about his involvement in the incident. He says he has conducted online relationships with six women over the past three years (but denies that he has had physical relationships with any of them); he also confirms that some of the relationships have occurred since his marriage to Huma Abedin 11 months ago. He claims his wife knew about several of his online relationships before their marriage, but says she was not aware that he had lied about the crotch-shot tweet until Monday morning.
He says he cannot deny that “X-rated” images of him exist.
Before Weiner arrives at the press conference, Andrew Breitbart takes the stage, speaking before a surprised group of reporters about his role in the incident. “I’m here to watch myself be vindicated,” he says.
Watch Weiner’s remarks at the press conference here:
Later, Nancy Pelosi calls for an ethics committe investigation into Rep. Weiner’s activities. Weiner has denied using government resources to conduct his online relationships, but so far two women have claimed Weiner called them from a government phone.
Evening: ABC airs an interview with with Meagan Broussard, “a 26-year-old single mother from Texas who provided dozens of photos, emails, Facebook messages and cell phone call logs” from an online relationship with Weiner that allegedly began April 20, 2011. (Weiner admitted, at his press conference, that Broussard was one of the six women with whom he conducted inappropriate relationships over the internet.) She says she has received explicit pictures from Weiner — and that he was a more persistent correspondent than she was.
ABC gives some background:
Broussard said her first contact with Weiner occurred on April 20 after she “liked” a YouTube clip of one of Weiner’s speeches that had been posted to his Facebook page.
She also commented — “hottttt” — on the link, which is still publicly visible on Weiner’s page and has received hundreds of other comments from Facebook users.
Weiner “almost immediately” added Broussard as a Facebook friend through his personal profile account, she said. And she accepted his request.
Watch Broussard’s interview with ABC’s Chris Cuomo (divided into two segments) here:
Also, RadarOnline and Star Magazine reveal the identity of the Nevada woman who has provided them with evidence of her “sexting” relationship with Anthony Weiner. Her name is Lisa Weiss, and she is described as “a 40-year-old Las Vegas blackjack dealer.”
8 p.m. ET: On his CNN show “In the Arena,” Eliot Spitzer talks to James Carville, Rick Lazio, and Howard Kurtz about Weinergate. Howard Kurtz says: “I remember the embarrassing day when you resigned as governor [of New York], Eliot, but the difference is you hadn’t given 27 television interviews the week before saying that you didn’t do something that you had, as Weiner has done here; [Weiner's actions were] monumentally stupid, because it becomes about the coverup.”
Discussing the awkwardness of Weiner’s press conference, Spitzer acknowledges that he himself has “been there,” saying: “The decision to resign is a deeply personal one, and let me be very up-front about this: as most folks probably know, I made the other decision. I did resign.”
June 5: For the first time since 1992, Rep. Weiner fails to attend New York’s Celebrate Israel Parade. CBS 2 News reports that he also avoids a pre-parade Metropolitan Council of Jewish Poverty event (one “he had said he would attend” as late as Friday). His office does not comment on either matter.
During the day, The Daily reports that the @RepWeiner crotch-shot tweet was sent via TweetDeck — the same software Weiner was using for his “non-hacked” tweets on the night of the 27th. Daniel Libit writes:
[A]ccording to data provided exclusively to The Daily from TweetCongress.org, a nonprofit website that captures each member of Congress’s Twitter feeds in real time, the shot seen round the world was transmitted using TweetDeck — a popular Adobe desktop application that links up with social networking sites. A review of Weiner’s Twitter stream from May 27, the day of the crotch pic, shows that Weiner had been posting only from TweetDeck — one of many ways to post messages to Twitter — that entire night. …
[T]his information doesn’t rule out the possibility that the congressman’s Twitter account was infiltrated — as Weiner has publicly suggested. But experts say it adds another hurdle for an alibi that has come under increasing fire.
June 3: Morning: The New York Post publishes an interview with Gennette Cordova, the college student to whom @RepWeiner’s obscene tweet was directed. “I’m just collateral damage,” Cordova tells Reuven Fenton, adding, “Everyone’s [writing] that I backed [Weiner's] contention that there was a hacking. But I never mentioned anything about a hacking.”
Meanwhile, on Twitter, Cordova furiously denies ever having granted an interview to Fenton or anyone at the Post, claiming she simply “spoke candidly with someone posing as a photog assistant.” “I was ‘Trojan horsed’ by an NY Post reporter who never said who he was or that he was interviewing me,” she says.
June 2: 1:26 a.m. EST: Andrew Breitbart wonders publicly on Twitter about the identity of @patriotusa76 (the person who first noticed @RepWeiner’s suspicious tweet on Friday night). Breitbart tweets: “Is there a real ‘Dan Wolfe’ @PatriotUSA76 or has someone for months elaborately pretended to be? #Weinergate gets more confusing!”
3:27 a.m. EST: Breitbart tweets again: “Lookin’ for some clarifying data from @patriotusa76. Call me. I’m listed. Article coming by 2pm EDT @BigGovt”
During the day: The Smoking Gun publishes emails it claims were sent from @patriotusa76/Dan Wolfe to Andrew Breitbart and another unidentified recipient (or recipients). TSG writes:
“Dan Wolfe” has [now] distanced himself from his online coterie of fellow conservatives, none of whom appear to know the true identity of Wolfe, who uses the Twitter handle “patriotusa76” and describes himself (assuming he is male) as a “Conservative Reagan Republican” opposed to “Obamacare, socialism, sharia.”
It appears that Wolfe sent a message to Breitbart around 4:15 a.m. EST on Saturday the 28th, with screenshots of @RepWeiner’s obscene tweet and his yfrog account, among other things. “We have more,” Wolfe added at the time.
A later email, sent on Monday, shows Wolfe explaining that he is reluctant to speak on the telephone because of alleged problems in his personal life.
June 1: Early afternoon: Weiner does an interview with MSNBC’s Luke Russert. When asked whether the picture is of him, Weiner says: “I can’t say with certitude.” He does say: “I didn’t send that picture out.” He adds, according to Politico:
We don’t know for sure what happened here. … This is a circumstance were someone committed a prank on the internet, spoofed me, made fun of me, whatever. We’re taking it seriously in as much we want to make sure it doesn’t happen again. … It is not a national security thing — I’m not sure I want to put national federal resources into trying to figure out who posted a picture on Weiner’s website of whatever. I’m not really sure it rises, no pun intended, to that level.
Early evening: Weiner does an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, who asks why the politician “can’t say with certitude” whether he is pictured in the photograph.
“You would know if this was your underpants, for example,” Blitzer says.
“It certainly doesn’t look familiar to me,” Weiner answers; he goes on to tell Blitzer that photos can be “doctored” and “manipulated.” He says he’s hired a legal team to “get to the bottom of what happened here.”
“I didn’t send any Twitter picture,” Weiner reiterates. “Sometimes these things happen” in today’s social media world, he says; “it seems like I was a victim of that.”
For the first time, he also gives a personal account of the incident itself, saying he was online when the allegedly hacked tweet appeared. “I was literally there tweeting about hockey,” he tells Blitzer, “and I see this thing pop up. I immediately delete it.”
When Blitzer questions him further as to whether there are inappropriate pictures of him in existence, Weiner says: “I don’t know what photographs are out there in the world of me.”
9:00 p.m. ET: In his third televised interview of the day, Weiner speaks to Rachel Maddow. “Will you tell me in your own words what has happened here?” She asks. Weiner responds: ”I don’t know for sure. It seems like what happened was someone somehow got access to my Twitter account and tweeted a joke, I guess. You know, when your name is Weiner, you get some of those sometimes. … I didn’t send the picture; I don’t know who did and what they intended to do.”
Again, Weiner refuses to say whether the picture is of him: “I’m not trying to be evasive; I just don’t know.”
“What this appears to be is probably what it is: someone making fun of my name, someone trying to cause trouble for me. … It’s a much more successful hack than I think anyone who did it could have even imagined, because it’s gotten so much oxygen.”
Weiner insists he won’t give up tweeting because of the incident.
“We’ve retained counsel to explore the proper next steps and to advise us on what civil or criminal actions should be taken. This was a prank. We are loath to treat it as more, but we are relying on professional advice.”
Later that afternoon, Andrew Breitbart appears on CNN, giving his own timeline of the affair. He calls for a “full-scale investigation” of the incident, involving either the FBI or the Capitol Police.
See his appearance in full:
Later still, Weiner gives a seven-minute press conference in Washington, in which he repeatedly refuses to answer direct questions about whether he sent the obscene tweet. The briefing is featured prominently on the night’s newscasts.
Watch the full press conference here:
May 30: Around 7 p.m. ET: CNN runs Weiner’s first televised statement on the “Weinergate” issue. The politician says: “It happens to people. You move on.”
May 29: 7:38 p.m. ET: The New York Daily News posts an exclusive, lengthy statement from Gennette Cordova, the student to whom the obscene tweet was directed. An excerpt:
The last 36 hours have been the most confusing, anxiety-ridden hours of my life. … I am a 21-year-old college student from Seattle. I have never met Congressman Weiner, though I am a fan. I go to school in Bellingham where I spend all of my time; I’ve never been to New York or to DC. The point I am trying to make is that, contrary to the impression that I apparently gave from my tweet, I am not his girlfriend. Nor am I the wife, girlfriend or mistress of Barack Obama, Ray Allen or Cristiano Ronaldo, despite the fact that I have made similar assertions about them via Twitter. … There have never been any inappropriate exchanges between Anthony Weiner and myself, including the tweet/picture in question, which had apparently been deleted before it reached me.
12:24 a.m. ET: On Andrew Breitbart’s website Big Government, “Publius,” an account representing the “Big Government Editorial Panel,” publishes a piece on the now-deleted tweet, reporting basic details and acknowledging that the tweet may have resulted from a hack.
12:54 am ET:</em><strong> </strong>@RepWeiner tweets: “Tivo shot. FB hacked. Is my blender gonna attack me next? #TheToasterIsVeryLoyal.”
1:42 pm ET: Referencing Publius’s Big Government piece, Andrew Breitbart tweets to @RepWeiner: “Just call it ‘constituency outreach’ and be done with it. We have much more. Need confirmation or denial.”
5:08 pm ET: Weiner tweets: “Touche Prof Moriarity. More Weiner Jokes for all my guests! #Hacked!”
6:21 pm ET: Mediaite posts an exhaustive account of the story so far.
May 27: 7:58 p.m. ET: @RepWeiner tweets: “Heading to 30 Rock to chat with Rachel at 9.#Thats545InSeattleIThink.” Some commentators later suggest he is referring to Seattle because it is in the same time zone as Bellingham, Washington, where Gennette Cordova lives. Weiner himself has called it a “coincidence.”
Between 10:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. ET: A photo of a man’s erection is posted on yfrog under the Twitter name @RepWeiner. The photo is also tweeted to Gennette Cordova, a college student from Washington, from Weiner’s account. According to conservative blog Pajamas Media, the tweet stays up for about four minutes before it is deleted.
[According to Big Government, all of @RepWeiner's yfrog account photos are deleted around 11 pm ET.]
11:34 pm ET: Dan Wolfe (@patriotusa76) retweets the alleged tweet from @RepWeiner’s account. Andrew Breitbart notices the item on Twitter.
May 5: Twitter user @patriotusa76 (real name: Dan Wolfe) begins tweeting about “sex-scandal pics of a ‘big time’ Congressman.” He references a tweet from someone with the handle @goatsred, who says “A big bomb about to burst : Rumor on the Right Coast is that a ‘big time’ Congressman was caught with a mistress. There are pix and a top five Right-Wing blogger has them.” The full exchange can be seen here.