WASHINGTON — New York Congressman Anthony Weiner testily fended off questions Tuesday about the lewd photo sent from his Twitter account and has hired a lawyer to help him figure out how to respond.
Weiner spokesman Dave Arnold said the Democrat believes it was a prank but he's retained a lawyer to advise him on what civil or criminal actions should be taken.
The photo, which showed a man's bulging underpants, was posted on Friday and sent to a female college student in Seattle. It was quickly deleted, but a frenzy of coverage and comment ensued on blogs, cable news outlets and other media.
The colorful and sometimes combative congressman who represents parts of Brooklyn and Queens was characteristically sharp tongued, refusing to answer reporters' questions about it, and even calling one a "jackass" for interrupting him. He insisted that he wanted to move on from the incident, which was distracting from his work on Capitol Hill. But there was no sign the story, or the speculation about who may have been responsible for tweeting the photo, was fading.
Weiner failed in a 2005 bid for the Democratic nomination for mayor of New York City, but he is still is widely considered a future contender for the office.
"I'm not going to talk about this anymore," Weiner told reporters on Capitol Hill. "I think that if I was giving a speech to 45,000 people and someone stood up and heckled in the back, I wouldn't spend three days talking to him. I'm going to get back to the conversation I care about."
Weiner declined to answer reporters' questions about the photo or why he was hiring a lawyer for the case instead of having law enforcement officials pursue the matter. Weiner was a Twitter follower of the female college student who received the photo.
The tweet of the lewd photo first was reported Saturday by BigGovernment.com, a website run by conservative commentator Andrew Breitbart.
The site said the photo was tweeted to a female college student in Seattle. The woman told the New York Daily News that she had never met Weiner, and that there had "never been any inappropriate exchanges" between her and the congressman.
Weiner, 46, is married to Huma Abedin, an aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The congressman over the weekend joked about the incident on Twitter, asking whether his kitchen blender would be next to "attack" him.
On Tuesday as the House was preparing to vote on the nation's debt limit, Weiner was back tweeting about the vote with his usual partisan edge.