ABC News' John R. Parkinson (@jrpabcdc) reports:
Rep. Anthony Weiner’s response to the flap around a lewd photo posted from his Twitter account went from dismissive and joking over the weekend to frustrated and combative Tuesday in Washington, when the Congressman became agitated with reporters and called a TV producer a “jackass.”
Weiner, D-N.Y., repeatedly refused to answer questions from reporters on Capitol Hill, calling focus on the photo, which was sent from his Twitter account to a 21-year-old college student who followed him on the social networking site, a distraction.
Weiner tweeted over the weekend that his account had been “hacked” and that led to the photo of a man’s lower half in boxer briefs being transmitted to the student.
But today the Congressman and his staff would not say any more or deny that the man shown in the photo was Weiner or explain why he was following a 21-year-old college student from Washington state on the site.
And while he said he was hacked, the congressman has not asked the United States Capitol Police to conduct an investigation into the posting of the photo and whether it was his groin depicted in the photo posted on his Twitter page, @RepWeiner.
In addition to no longer taking questions about the matter, Weiner has hired a lawyer to represent him.
Gennette Cordova, the woman who received the photo from his Twitter account, meanwhile, told her story via Twitter too.
When Weiner, who is known for his temper, spoke to reporters on Capitol Hill today, things turned heated when he wanted to talk solely about an impending vote on raising the nation’s debt limit and would not answer their questions about the lewd photo.
“This was a prank that I’ve now been talking about for a couple of days. I’m not going to allow it to decide what I talk about for the next week or the next two weeks, and so I’m not going to be giving any more about that today, I think I’ve been pretty responsive to you in the past,” Weiner told a scrum of reporters outside his Capitol Hill office Tuesday evening. “If I were giving a speech to 45,000 people and someone in the back threw a pie or yelled an insult, I would not spend the next two hours of my speech responding to that pie or that insult. I would return the things that I want to talk about to the audience that I want to talk to, and that is what I intend to do this week.”
Reporters continued to press Weiner on why he is not asking for a formal investigation, and he was adamant that “I am not going to permit myself to be distracted by this issue any longer.”
“I’ve been doing that for several days. Now I choose – now I choose – there are people who haven’t read the statements, I assume you have. Look all I can tell you is this: This is akin to someone deciding on Day 3 or Day 4 that they want to continue talking about something that I consider a distraction, and me making a decision on how I’m going to deal with this. And the decision that I’ve made is I’m not going to permit it to distract me. I’m not going to permit it to continue on for three, four five, six more days,” Weiner said. “If that’s unsatisfactory to you, I apologize, but I think that what people really want to talk about are things like the debt limit vote tonight, are things like the oppressive disparity between the very well to do in this country and the people who don’t have as much, or the fact that it’s more and more difficult to be in the middle class in this country. That’s why I’m here to work on.”
Weiner added a tidbit that he “passed Michele Bachmann today the number of twitter followers. I will give you that fact.”
Asked whether that was a result of the viral news reporting on the lewd photo, Weiner said “Unfortunately it probably is,” but he refused once again to address whether he posted the photo himself.
“This is now Day 3. You have statements that my office has put out. There are statements that my office put out and there are going to be people who are going to want – look – this is the tactic. The guy in the back of the room who is throwing the pie or yelling out the insult wants this to be the conversation,” he said. “The objective of the person who is doing the mischief is to try to distract me from what I’m doing. So for the last couple of days that has happened. I’ve made a decision. I’m not going to let it happen today. I’m not going to let it happen tomorrow. You’re doing your job, I understand it. Just go ahead and do it, but you’re going to have to do it without me answer questions about this.”
“I’m going to have to ask that we follow some rules here. One of them is going to be you ask questions and I’ll do the answers, that seem reasonable? That be reasonable, you do the questions, I do the answers, and this jack-ass interrupts me?” Weiner said of CNN’s Capitol Hill producer Ted Barrett. “How about that as the rule of the game? Let me just give the answer.”
Weiner emphasized that he prefers to “talk about the debt limit vote,” which is happening later this evening.
“Let me make a point about the debt limit. We are tonight at 6:30, 6:45, going to be casting a vote on something that has monumental importance to our economy, whether or not we have a stunt vote on something as important on the debt limit. I want to focus what I talk about on that,” Weiner said. “I want to focus what I’m working on, on that. I want to focus on that because frankly I think my constituents want me to, and frankly that’s what the country would want me to. So that’s what I’m going to do. I’m not going to allow this thing to dominate what I talk about any further.”
Asked why he retained a lawyer and what he was directing his legal team to do, Weiner was evasive, telling reporters that “they’re going to advise us on appropriate next steps.”
“There are people that are going to want to distract from what I have to do, there are. There are going to be people that want to have this debate. And to some degree the people who want to engage it are zealous to do it. Why? I choose to fight for the things that I care about, and the things that I’m working on. I know this is how the game is played, some people decide they want to talk about this thing for days and days. I choose not to. That’s my prerogative. Sorry. Sorry.”