OTR Interviews

Could Ethics Violation Investigation Be Just the Beginning of More Trouble Ahead for Rep. Weiner?

New York congressman's troubles may be only beginning in Twitter pic scandal

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," June 6, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Joining us is Rick Klein, senior Washington editor for "ABC World News." Good evening, Rick. And I don't know how much weirder this can get, but let's start with Andrew Breitbart. What were the odds that he was going to be at that press conference? How did that happen, do you know?

RICK KLEIN, "ABC WORLD NEWS": Yes, I thought I was watching the wrong channel when I saw him show up there and take over the press conference that was supposed to be Congressman Weiner's. He says he was just a few blocks away and he saw the media scrum and he wanted to come by and address it. So he went to the microphone.

I've never seen a sight like that, to just take over a press conference and preempt Congressman Weiner with his impromptu performance there.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, he said in his press conference he spoke with Leader Nancy Pelosi, which I suspect is little bit at this point like going to the principal's office when you basically got caught with your pants down, so to speak, and you've got to 'fess up. I'm curious, will there be an ethics investigation? Did he violate any ethics code?

KLEIN: There will be an investigation. It's actually because Nancy Pelosi and other leading House Democrats are among those who are calling for this. Look, they defended Congressman Weiner when this first broke. They took him largely at his word that he had been hacked and they wanted to get to he bottom of it, just like he said he had. They felt betrayed by this, and I think the statements speak volumes. To say -- for Democrats to express their extreme disappointment, for them to lodge an ethics complaint I think is a pretty major statement.

It's a different question, though, whether he actually violated any rules of the House. That's going to be a matter for the Ethics Committee to discuss. But the wording is somewhat murky around these areas, and it's very possible that not only did he not break the law but that he didn't violate House rules.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, he certainly was tearful today but -- and listening -- and re-listening to the press conference, it caught me a little bit how cagey it was, how he talked about the latest one that he got caught with, how that was supposed to have been a joke. But then if you go back to the interview that the 26-year-old that we just heard part of it with Sean Hannity, and even reported on ABC News, is that she got that same picture back in April. So apparently, it wasn't just sort of an accidental joke. It's almost a serial episode with this man.

KLEIN: Well, bottom line is, this is someone who spent the last 10 days or so trying to talk his way out of this. And he had those very carefully constructed answers last week that, of course, got all the reporters even more interested in this story.

Today, he was able to turn it around and say, Look, I made a mistake here and I have to apologize for it. He still hasn't answered all the questions. And one of the things the Ethics Committee's going to look at, were there any taxpayer resources that were involved in this? And did his conduct in some way reflect dishonor upon the House? Those the kind of areas that the inquiry could reflect.

But it's hard to see anything here that rises to the level of major violations of House rules, the kind of thing that would lead to an expulsion. I don't see anything here, unless there's something else waiting to drop.

VAN SUSTEREN: I guess it depends on how you look at it. One way that it might be looked upon, and we have to get more facts, is he's sort of preying on young women, women who didn't ask for these photos, didn't ask for the texting, that he sort of crawls around the Internet looking for them and sends them. This last one is a 26-year-old single woman -- single mother, rather, and had been -- served in the military, and he start trolling for them. You know, he is a man in a position of power, don't you agree?

KLEIN: Oh, no question. And one of the issues that he'll have to figure out, obviously, is were all these people of age? If they were all - - if none of them were minors, that changes this somewhat. But you're right, I mean, what -- how he used his position in all of this I think you'll want to see the Ethics Committee go through a lot of the documentation on this. What exactly was said? What was sent? What provoked all of these conversations? Was there ever any physical contact between them? Was Congressman Weiner now finally telling the truth today?

VAN SUSTEREN: I guess we should also say that the Democratic Party doesn't have a monopoly on scandals on Capitol Hill over the years, does it.

KLEIN: No, certainly not. And look, a lot of people saying that when Democrats get caught, they stick around. Republicans get caught, they always resign. That's not the case. We see people like Senator David Vitter, who admitted to sleeping with a prostitute, who was then reelected in Louisiana. So it does cut both ways. And I think often, these kind of things just transcend politics. It ends up being about the individual, individual stories of tragedy and sometimes individual stories of crime. But more about that than it is about a political party.

VAN SUSTEREN: I don't know if he admitted sleeping with her, he said, quote, that he just had "conversations" with her...

KLEIN: Oh. Sorry.

VAN SUSTEREN: ... or something else. Whatever. I'm just -- and I say it with some level of sarcasm because I don't know if anyone really believes that one. But anyway, Rick, thank you.

KLEIN: Thanks.