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Porn actress says US Rep Weiner asked her to lie

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Thu, 16 Jun 2011 00:19 GMT
Author: Reuters
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* Lee would cooperate with ethics investigation

* Pressure on Weiner to resign (Updates with House Democrats meeting, paragraph 12)

By Michelle Nichols

NEW YORK, June 15 (Reuters) - A porn actress said on Wednesday that embattled U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner asked her to lie about their email relationship in the hope an Internet sex scandal surrounding him would die down.

Ginger Lee, who is also a stripper, said her exchanges with the Democratic lawmaker from New York began with political discussions of abortion rights and healthcare but Weiner kept trying to sexualize the conversation. She said she never reciprocated his lewd messages.

Weiner denied for more than a week that he sent a close-up photo of himself in boxer briefs to a woman in Seattle on May 28, claiming his Twitter account had been hacked. But on June 6, he tearfully admitted he had lied and that he had inappropriate exchanges with six women, some after he was married.

As bipartisan calls grow for Weiner to resign, he has instead been granted a two-week leave of absence so he can get professional treatment at an undisclosed facility.

"He asked me to lie about our communication," Lee told a news conference in New York, flanked by celebrity attorney Gloria Allred. "I knew I couldn't lie for him but I didn't want to be the one who kicked him under the bus."

"I think that Anthony Weiner should resign because he lied. He lied to the public and the press for more than a week," she said. "If he lied about this, I can't have much faith in him about anything else."

Allred said Lee had about 100 emails she had exchanged with Weiner since March, when he initially contacted her on Twitter after she posted a supportive blog about him.

Allred said while most of the emails were not sexual, Weiner had referred to his "package" in some exchanges, such as "I have wardrobe demands too, I need to highlight my package" and "You aren't giving my package due credit."

Lee said no photos were exchanged.

When the scandal broke, she sought Weiner's advice on how to deal with the media. The pair continued to communicate and on June 2 he phoned her, advising that if they both stayed quiet the scandal would die down.

"Once it got to the point that he lied on national television, I knew that anything I said after that would either have to be a lie or an admission. I didn't want to do either," Lee said.

HOUSE DEMOCRATIC MEETING

House Democratic leaders plan to meet on Thursday, and the Weiner scandal is among the topics certain to come up, party aides said.

House Democrats cannot force Weiner to resign, but at some point the full House Democratic caucus could crank up the pressure on him to step down.

Among its options is to strip him of committee assignments, boot him out of the House Democratic caucus and pass a non-binding resolution that says he should quit, which would effectively be a vote of no-confidence in him.

Weiner's wife, Huma Abedin, 35, a senior aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, returned to Washington early on Wednesday from a trip to Africa with Clinton.

Democrats have privately expressed hope that once Weiner confers with his wife, he will reassess his position and step down.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi has requested an ethics probe to determine what, if any, House rules Weiner may have broken. The probe could take months, even up to a year or more.

Allred said Lee was prepared to provide her communications with Weiner to any ethics investigation and would testify if called. (Additional reporting in Washington by Thomas Ferraro; Editing by Mark Egan and Peter Cooney)

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