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It all started when a photo of a man in gray underwear surfaced on Weiner's Twitter feed late last month. Weiner, a prolific tweeter, raised eyebrows when he said he could not say "with certitude" whether the photo was of him but denied sending it. But on Monday, conservative activist Andrew Breitbart posted new photos that appeared to show Weiner, shirtless and sitting in what looks like an office.
Separately, radaronline.com alleged that an anonymous woman had provided the gossip site with transcripts of explicit chat sessions she had with Weiner, who is married.
On Monday, Weiner took responsibility for taking the pictures and said the underwear image was sent to his thousands of followers by accident.
"I tweeted a photograph I had intended to send as a direct message as a joke to a woman in Seattle," he said, adding that he had "several inappropriate conversations" with six women via text message, Twitter, email, Facebook and in some cases on the phone. Weiner acknowledged sending pictures to some of the women.
Although he said most of the incidents occurred before he was married, "some, sadly, took place after," his July 10, 2010, wedding to Huma Abedin.
He said he and Abedin, who works for the State Department, intend to stay together. He repeatedly apologized to Abedin and his constituents, and he insisted, "I have never met any of these women or had physical relationships at any time."
Weiner said he had spoken with Pelosi before his press conference, telling reporters that during their brief conversation the Democratic leader had urged him "to be truthful, she said to say what you know and was thankful I was doing that today."
In a statement released by his office, Hoyer spokeswoman Katie Grant said that her boss "has urged Mr. Weiner from the beginning that he needed to be truthful and put the facts on the table."
Senate Democratic Conference Vice Chairman Charles Schumer (N.Y.) has stood by Weiner throughout the scandal. Weiner won Schumer’s House seat in 1998 when he won election to the Senate.
“I am deeply pained and saddened by today’s news,” Schumer said Monday. “By fully explaining himself, apologizing to all he hurt and taking full responsibility for his wrongful actions, Anthony did the right thing. He remains a talented and committed public servant, and I pray he and his family can get through these difficult times.”
Weiner, 46, had worked his way through the often rough-and-tumble New York Democratic political machine in the 1990s as a city councilman before being elected to the House.
Once there, Weiner quickly made himself one of the chamber's most unapologetic liberal firebrands, using bombastic speeches on the House floor to launch a national political persona. He appeared poised to translate that success into a run for New York City mayor.
But the scandal could now throw his political future into doubt.
While leadership pushed the calls for an ethics probe, Democrats were not openly calling for Weiner to step aside Monday. But Republicans, similarly embarrassed when shirtless photos prompted ex-Rep. Chris Lee (R-N.Y.) to resign earlier this year, held nothing back.