Entries in ABC News Exclusive (11)


ABC News EXCLUSIVE: Obama Recognizes Syrian Opposition Group

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- In a diplomatic shift, President Obama said Tuesday his administration now formally recognizes the newly-formed, leading coalition of Syrian rebels who are fighting to topple Syria's embattled President Bashar Assad.

"We've made a decision that the Syrian Opposition Coalition is now inclusive enough, is reflective and representative enough of the Syrian population that we consider them the legitimate representative of the Syrian people in opposition to the Assad regime," Obama said.

The announcement, made during an exclusive interview with ABC News' Barbara Walters, grants new legitimacy to the rebel group and marks a new phase in U.S. efforts to isolate the Assad regime.

"It's a big step," Obama said of the decision. The United States follows Britain and the European Union, both of which last month recognized the Syrian opposition group.

More of Barbara Walters' exclusive first joint, post-election interview with President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama airs Friday, Dec. 14, on 20/20 at 10 p.m. ET on ABC stations.

The diplomatic designation will allow the United States to more closely support rebel efforts, including the organization of a future post-Assad government, administration officials said.

"Obviously, with that recognition comes responsibilities," Obama said of the young coalition. "To make sure that they organize themselves effectively, that they are representative of all the parties, [and] that they commit themselves to a political transition that respects women's rights and minority rights."

The move does not include the provision of weapons, but it opens the door for that possibility in the future.

"Providing arms has to be done in a way that helps promote a political solution," one senior Obama administration official said Tuesday. "And until we understand how these arms promote a political solution, we do not see how provision of arms is a good idea."

But the official added, "the president has never ruled out in the future providing arms."

Obama expressed caution Tuesday about some Syrian factions involved with the coalition, warning that the United States will not support extremist elements.

"Not everybody who's participating on the ground in fighting Assad are people who we are comfortable with," Obama told Walters. "There are some who, I think, have adopted an extremist agenda, an anti-U.S. agenda, and we are going to make clear to distinguish between those elements."

The president specifically singled out the group Jabhat al-Nusrah for its alleged affiliation with al Qaeda in Iraq. The State Department says the jihadist group is responsible for nearly 600 violent attacks in major Syrian cities in the past year.

"Through these attacks, al-Nusrah has sought to portray itself as part of the legitimate Syrian opposition while it is, in fact, an attempt by [al Qaeda in Iraq] to hijack the struggles of the Syrian people for its own malign purposes," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.

The Obama administration blacklisted al-Nusrah earlier this week, imposing economic sanctions and branding it a terrorist organization.

Recognition of the Syrian rebel group has been expected. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was to formally announce the new relations with the United States during a meeting of international allies supporting Syria's rebels in Marrakech, Morocco, on Wednesday.

She has since cancelled her trip because of an illness. Her deputy, Bill Burns, will attend in her place.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Female Senators Say They’d Already Have ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Solved

Martin H. Simon / ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- With 20 days to go until the nation goes over the so-called fiscal cliff, some female senators say if they were in charge, Congress would already have a deal.

“I think if we were in charge of the Senate and of the administration that we would have a budget deal by now,” Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, told ABC’s World News anchor Diane Sawyer Tuesday.

In an exclusive joint interview, Sawyer sat down Tuesday on Capitol Hill with the historic class of female senators of the 113th Congress. When the new Congress is sworn in on Jan. 3, there will be a record-breaking 20 female senators – four Republicans, 16 Democrats -- in office.

As President Obama and Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio., work to negotiate a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff — the slate of abrupt tax increases and steep spending cuts are set to take effect at the start of the year — there was near-unanimity among the female Senators Tuesday that they’d be able to broker a deal faster themselves.

“What I find is with all due deference to – deference to our male colleagues, that women’s styles tend to be more collaborative,” Collins said.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said by nature women are “less confrontational and more collaborative,” – both traits necessary to reach a deal to avoid the country going over the fiscal cliff.

“Having us in the room– and I think– you know, all of us, not only do we want to work in a bipartisan way, we do it,” McCaskill said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


ABC News EXCLUSIVE: President Obama Predicts GOP Will Cave on Taxes

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- As the clock ticks toward a tax hike on all Americans in 20 days, President Obama predicted Republicans would join Democrats to extend current rates for 98 percent of earners before the end of the year.

"I'm pretty confident that Republicans would not hold middle class taxes hostage to trying to protect tax cuts for high-income individuals," Obama said Tuesday in an exclusive interview with ABC News' Barbara Walters.

"I don't think they'll do that," he said of Republicans forcing tax-rate increases for families earning $250,000 a year or less.

The sign of optimism follows weeks of tense negotiations and public posturing to avert the so-called "fiscal cliff," an economically toxic package of $6 trillion in across-the-board tax hikes and $1.2 trillion in deep spending cuts that could begin in early 2013.

The White House and House Speaker John Boehner have exchanged new, competing deficit-reduction plans over the last 24 hours, sources say, but there is little indication of real progress toward a deal.

Obama has taken a hard line against extending current, lower tax rates on income over $250,000, which would affect the top 2 percent of income earners. Republicans have said those rates should be extended.

The standoff threatens higher rates for everyone unless a broad "cliff" deal is reached, or the middle-income rates are extended on their own.

"I remain optimistic," Obama told Walters. "I'd like to see a big package. But the most important thing we can do is make sure that middle class taxes do not go up on Jan. 1."

More of Barbara Walters' exclusive first joint, post-election interview with President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama airs Friday, Dec. 14, on 20/20 at 10 p.m. ET on ABC stations.

Obama met privately with Boehner at the White House on Sunday for their second face-to-face session on the fiscal negotiations, signaling potential progress toward an agreement. But neither side presented specific details about the outcome of the meeting.

"I think the tone was good," Obama told Walters. "I believe that both Speaker Boehner and myself and the other leaders want to see a deal happen. And the question now is can we get it done. The outlines, the framework of what a deal should look like are pretty straightforward."

While the administration has emphasized tax increases on the wealthy, Republicans insist they need specific commitments from the White House on cuts to entitlement program spending, which are the primary drivers of federal deficits and debt.

"It was a nice meeting, it was cordial," Boehner said Tuesday of his Sunday meeting. "But we're still waiting for the White House to identify what spending cuts the president is willing to make as part of the 'balanced approach' that he promised the American people."

Boehner and House Republicans have proposed curbing the rate of increase for Social Security payments and raising the eligibility age for Medicare, among other changes, which are non-starters for many Obama supporters.

In his interview with Walters, the president hinted at new flexibility on entitlement spending cuts, but only once Republicans concede on top tax rates.

"If the Republicans can move on that [taxes] then we are prepared to do some tough things on the spending side," Obama said. "Taxes are going to go up one way or another. And I think the key is that taxes go up on high-end individuals."

Raising the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67 is "something that's been floated," Obama said, not dismissing the idea outright.

"When you look at the evidence, it's not clear that it actually saves a lot of money," he said. "But what I've said is let's look at every avenue, because what is true is we need to strengthen Social Security, we need to strengthen Medicare for future generations, the current path is not sustainable because we've got an aging population and health care costs are shooting up so quickly."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Paul Ryan Exclusive: Obama Lacks Mandate to Raise Taxes

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Despite a devastating loss last week, Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan rejected Democratic claims of a mandate to raise tax rates.

Asked whether President Obama has a mandate on taxes, Ryan told ABC News' senior political correspondent Jonathan Karl that the House Republican majority is proof that the president does not.

"I don't think so, because they also reelected the House Republicans. So whether people intended or not, we've got divided government," Ryan, R-Wis., said in his first national interview since last week's loss. "This is a very close election, and unfortunately divided government didn't work very well the last two years. We're going to have to make sure it works in the next two years."

Ryan returned to the Capitol Tuesday, resuming his duties as House Budget chairman. Even though the president aggressively campaigned on raising tax rates on the wealthy and exit polling showed a majority of voters embrace the president's position, Ryan was adamant in his opposition to that strategy.

"Raising tax rates hurts economic growth and of all things we need right now, to prevent a fiscal cliff, prevent a recession, prevent a debt crisis, is we need people to go back to work," Ryan said. "There are other ways of getting more revenue into our government without damaging the economy, and that's the kind of thing we hope to achieve."

"Take away the loopholes," he added. "That's a better way to do it."

Congressional leaders are scheduled to meet with the president at the White House this Friday, but lawmakers remain divided on the prospects for a bipartisan deal.

While some conservatives have openly blamed Romney for failing to deliver a victory last week, Ryan said he and his running mate "felt very good about the race we ran" while he marveled at the success of the president's ground game.

"We wanted to offer specific ideas and solutions rooted in our country's principles, on how to get people back to work and how to fix the debt crisis, strengthen our military, and get people going, you know, back to work. And we offered those ideas," he said. "We ran the kind of campaign we wanted to run. I'm very proud of the campaign we ran, and it was an absolute honor to be on the ticket with Mitt Romney."

"The president deserves kudos for having a fantastic ground game, and the point I'm simply making is he won," Ryan continued. "He won fair and square. He got more votes, and that's the way our system works, and so he ought to be congratulated for that."

Ryan also said that the Romney campaign was "exactly the kind of campaign that I would've run had I been on the top of the ticket."

"We thought we had a very good chance of winning. You know, the polling and the data and all the people who are the smart people who watch this stuff -- they had a pretty optimistic view on the night," Ryan said. "Going into Boston that day, we felt like we had a pretty darn good chance of winning. So as you can imagine, it was a bit of a shock when we didn't win, but that's just the way these things go."

Ryan, who was easily reelected to his eighth term in the House, said that he "went off the grid" after the loss last week. When news broke that CIA director David Petraeus was resigning due to an extramarital affair, Ryan said he was watching football and movies with his children and didn't even hear about the scandal until his wife Janna told him.

"I kind of took myself off the grid after the election," he said. "I don't know enough about his scandal to give you any comment about the timing or nature of it all. [But] it's terrible."

Ryan sai, "there's an upside to losing, which is a reconnection with my family," and he described his kids as "completely resilient" after the loss.

"Bad news: dad lost; the good news: they get to stay at the same school," Ryan said. "That was the upside of all this. The downside is we didn't win the election that we really wanted to win."

"Just this last weekend, I got to go to both my boys' basketball games, I got to go to two of my daughter's volleyball games," he said. "Next weekend is opening weekend for deer season and I'm taking my daughter hunting, and that's what I'm looking forward to most right now."

After House Speaker John Boehner characterized Ryan's role going forward as a "policy wonk," Ryan said he welcomes the speaker's portrayal "as a great compliment" and pointed to a decentralized structure of leadership within the GOP ranks, including governors outside of Congress, as confirmation that there is room for leaders in the Republican Party.

"I've always been one of the House policy wonks," Ryan laughed. "I don't think that we have one person who's a leader. We shouldn't have just one person that's a leader of the Republican Party. It's decentralized. We have a lot of great talent in this party. We have a lot of talented people that are gonna be offering their ideas."

Going forward in the lame duck session, Ryan said he envisions he will, "continue to be a champion of ideas" as he looks for ways to create economic growth.

"How we have an inclusive party that shows how you get people back to work, how we tackle our country's fiscal challenges, how we make sure we have a strong military, how we prevent our healthcare system from failing?" Ryan wondered. "These are the concerns I have right now."

So will Paul Ryan run for president in 2016?

"Aren't you tired of presidential politics? I know I am," he said with a laugh. "Let's just deal with one thing at a time. I've got to think people are a little sick of hearing about presidential speculation after we just finished this presidential campaign."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Boehner Exclusive: Raising Tax Rates 'Unacceptable' but New Revenue on Table

Martin H. Simon/ABC(NEW YORK) -- Raising tax rates is "unacceptable" to House Speaker John Boehner as he prepares to open negotiations on the looming "fiscal cliff" with the president and congressional Democrats, he told World News anchor Diane Sawyer Thursday in an exclusive interview.

"Raising tax rates is unacceptable," Boehner, R-Ohio, said in his first broadcast interview since the election Tuesday.

"Frankly, it couldn't even pass the House. I'm not sure it could pass the Senate."

That stance could set up a real showdown with the White House given that the president has said he will veto any deal that does not allow tax cuts for the rich to expire. But the speaker maintained that Republicans will put new tax revenue on the table as leaders work toward a deal.

"I would do that if the president was serious about solving our spending problem and trying to secure our entitlement programs," Boehner said. "If you're increasing taxes on small-business people, it's the wrong approach."


Nevertheless, Boehner added that he is willing at least to listen to the president's proposals, even if they clash with his party's principles.

"Of course, we'll talk about it. We talk about all kinds of things we may disagree on," Boehner said. "I'm the most reasonable, responsible person here in Washington. The president knows it. He knows that he and I can work together. The election's over. Now it's time to get to work."

The fiscal cliff is a mix of tax increases and spending cuts set to take effect at the end of the year that could sink the economy back into recession. Boehner told Sawyer he imagines that negotiations on a bipartisan deal will begin soon, although he did not reveal whether any talks are already scheduled.

Still, he said he hoped the framework of a deal could be completed by the end of the year in order to direct the next Congress to work out the details. "The American people elected new representatives," he said. "They're the ones who ought to be the ones to do this."

"There are things that we can do in the lame duck to avert the fiscal crisis, but we want to do this the right way. We don't want to rush through this the next two to three weeks. And what do you get? You can't rewrite the tax code the next two or three weeks. And, so, there's a lot of possibilities in terms of how we proceed, and I'm confident that we can."

Boehner said that once he saw that Mitt Romney would lose the race for the White House, he went to sleep at about 11:15 p.m. on election night with the realization that he would wake up to divided government, but still "slept like a baby."

"I may not like the five cards that have been dealt to me, but those are the cards I've got in my hand, and my job on behalf of the American people is to find a way to vote with my Democrat colleagues and a Democrat president to solve America's problems," he said. "If there was one mandate that came out of the election, it was find a way to work together to address our problems."

Sawyer asked the speaker whether Romney should take responsibility for those election results, but Boehner said he is proud of his campaign.

"I'll let all the political prognosticators figure out how the election went and why it went the way it did because Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan did a very nice job carrying our banner," he said. "But we lost. The other side did a much more effective job in getting their votes out to them, out to the polls. And as I'm fond of saying, 'Polls don't decide elections, voters do,' and more of their voters showed up than ours."

Asked whether he will make another attempt to fully repeal the Affordable Care Act, Boehner said "the election changes that" and "Obamacare is the law of the land."

Still, there are some parts of the law, he said, that should be on the table as lawmakers work toward a balanced budget.

The speaker also revealed that comprehensive, bipartisan immigration overhaul would be a top priority of his agenda during the 113th Congress.

"This issue has been around far too long," he said. "A comprehensive approach is long overdue, and I'm confident that the president, myself, others can find the common ground to take care of this issue once and for all."

The speaker also downplayed the influence of the Tea Party on his conference, even though at least 49 members of the Tea Party caucus won re-election.

"This has been the most misreported story of my two years' tenure. We don't have a Tea Party caucus to speak of in the House," Boehner said. "All of us who were elected in 2010 were supported by the Tea Party.

"These are ordinary Americans who've taken a more active role in their government. They want solutions, but we've all come a long way over the last two years. I think we all understand each other a lot better."

With minorities and women comprising of a majority within the House Democratic Caucus during the next session, Sawyer asked Boehner whether the Republican Party is too white, too old and too male. The speaker acknowledged that the GOP has work ahead to appeal to other demographics.

"What Republicans need to learn is how do we speak to all Americans. You know, not just the people who look like us and act like us, but how do we speak to all Americans?" Boehner said.

"Listen, we believe in the American dream. We believe in individual freedom, and we believe in empowering all citizens. I think there's a message there that resonates with all Americans, but we need to do a much more effective job in communicating it."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Huntsman Will Drop Out of Republican Race

EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) --  Jon Huntsman will drop out of the Republican presidential race on Monday, a campaign spokesman told ABC News.

A source close to the Huntsman campaign said the former ambassador to China and Utah Governor was “proud of the race that he ran” but “did not want to stand in the way” of rival Mitt Romney, the current front-runner for the Republican nomination.

Huntsman plans to endorse Romney at an 11 a.m. press conference Monday in Myrtle Beach, SC.

After a disappointing third place finish in New Hampshire – a contest on which he had staked his candidacy – Huntsman vowed to fight on. In his concession speech in New Hampshire, he told his supporters:  “I say third place is a ticket to ride, ladies and gentleman! Hello, South Carolina!”

But just six days from the South Carolina primary, Huntsman has said goodbye to the Palmetto state after all.

A Huntsman aide tells ABC News that the decision came in the wake of the results in the New Hampshire primary.

“He has been discussing with his family after they woke up after a successful evening in New Hampshire. They felt good about their performance in New Hampshire, but he and his family had a discussion and this is the decision came to,” the aide said. “At the end of the day he decided he did not want to hurt the best chance of beating Barack Obama and that’s Mitt Romney. By continuing into South Carolina and Florida, that’s what he would have been doing.”

While Huntsman will be throwing his support to Romney on Monday, it was only a week ago that he told ABC’s John Berman just the opposite.

When asked if he trusts Governor Romney, Huntsman replied, “He has not put forth reason to give us a reason for us to trust him.”

Earlier this month, he told another ABC reporter that Romney is “completely out of touch.”

And as recently as Saturday, Huntsman was questioning Romney’s electability.

Reporters asked Huntsman if any of the Republican establishment  had reached out to him and asked him to tone down his criticism of Romney and his work with Bain Capital. Huntsman explained:
“Nope. And listen. I have said what I have said. My problem is really a political issue. And that is, when you have a candidate that talks about enjoyment in firing people, talks about pink-slips, who makes comment that seem to be so detached from the problems that Americans are facing today. that makes you pretty much unelectable. And I say, we want a nominee who can actually go on to win. That’s the issue…. the bigger issue is one of electability.”

Huntsman, 51, entered the race last summer to high expectations, but he struggled from the start to win over conservative Republican voters.

Huntsman is now the fourth Republican candidate to drop out of the campaign. Tim Pawlenty, the former governor Minnesota, dropped out last summer after a disappointing finish in the Iowa straw poll. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota dropped out just after the Iowa Caucus and businesman Herman Cain left the race in a storm of sexual harassment allegations.  With Huntsman’s endorsement of Romney on Monday as well as Pawlenty’s endorsement of Romney last summer, two of the four have thrown their support behind the former Massachusetts governor. The other two – Cain and Bachmann – have yet to endorse.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama: Potential Supporters Sense Recovery ‘Still Hasn’t Gotten Done Yet’

ABC News(JAMESTOWN, N.C.) -- On the second day of his bus tour through North Carolina, President Obama acknowledged in an exclusive interview with ABC News that the challenges facing his re-election stem in part from the disillusionment of his supporters with his leadership on the economy.

“I guarantee it’s going to be a close election because the economy is not where it wants to be and even though I believe all the choices we’ve made have been the right ones, we’re still going through difficult circumstances,” Obama told ABC News senior White House correspondent Jake Tapper in an interview to air Tuesday evening on Nightline from Jamestown, N.C.

“That means people who may be sympathetic to my point of view still kind of feel like, yeah, but it still hasn’t gotten done yet,” Obama said.

The president faces sagging popular support in key swing states such as North Carolina and Virginia, which he won narrowly in 2008 and where lingering economic malaise is complicating his bid to keep the states blue.

Obama narrowly carried North Carolina four years ago, but now 51 percent of voters disapprove of the president and 44 percent say he has made the economy worse, according to an Elon University poll. In Virginia, 52 percent of voters in a Quinnipiac University poll disapprove of Obama while 51 say he does not deserve a second term.

“This is going to be a close election and a very important one for the American people,” Obama said. “The thing I hope the most is that everyone is going to be paying close attention to the debate that takes place because it could determine not just what happens over the next four years, but what’ll happen over the next 20 or 30 years.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama: Occupy Wall Street ‘Not That Different’ from Tea Party Protests

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(JAMESTOWN, N.C.) -- President Obama, who has become a target of the Occupy Wall Street protests sweeping the country, on Tuesday embraced the economic frustration voiced on the streets and said in an exclusive interview with ABC News that his vision for the U.S. economic system is best suited to resolve protesters’ concerns.

“I understand the frustrations being expressed in those protests,” Obama told ABC News senior White House correspondent Jake Tapper in the interview to air Tuesday evening on ABC News' Nightline from Jamestown, N.C.

“In some ways, they’re not that different from some of the protests that we saw coming from the Tea Party. Both on the left and the right, I think people feel separated from their government. They feel that their institutions aren’t looking out for them,” he said.

[Click here to see video from ABC News' exclusive interview with President Obama]

Obama said the most important thing he can do as president is express solidarity with the protesters and redouble his commitment to achieving what he described as a more egalitarian society.

Obama alluded to his American Jobs Act, which would be funded in part by raising taxes on wealthier Americans and some corporations in order to make them pay “their fair share.”

“We’re at a critical moment in this country where if we can regain some of the values that helped build this country that people, I think, long for, when they feel that everybody gets a fair shake but we’re also asking a fair share from everybody, if we can go back to that then I think a lot of that anger, that frustration dissipates,” he said.

Obama acknowledged that widespread popular frustration is directed at him because of the administration’s failure to jumpstart job creation and economic growth. But he shrugged off the suggestion that he could have done more from the start, including focusing less on health care legislation.

“You ever wonder that if you had focused entirely, exclusively, not to take away your work on health care and Wall Street reform, but if you had just focus on jobs as some people suggest you should have been doing, that maybe it would be different than now?” Tapper asked Obama.

“Probably not,” Obama replied. “Every day, I think about other things we could be doing different and the truth of the matter is, we passed a very big recovery act that we knew was going to take some time to take effect. It made a difference.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Bill Clinton Exclusive: 'Not the Time for Spending Cuts'

ABC News(CHICAGO) -- Former President Bill Clinton sees a possible way past the bipartisan impasse over raising the debt limit: agree to cut spending and raise taxes, but do neither until later, after the economy improves.

"If they [the Republicans] said, look, that now is not the time for big tax increases to harm the recovery, they would be right," Clinton told ABC News in an exclusive interview at the Clinton Global Initiative America conference in Chicago.  "But it's also right to say that now's not the time for big spending cuts."

"What I'd like to see them do is agree on the outlines of a 10-year plan and agree not to start either the revenue hikes or the spending cuts until we've got this recovery underway," Clinton added.  "The confidence that the Republicans say would be given to investors with a budget plan, they'd get whether we started this year or next year or the year after that, for that matter."

For the first time, the former president is focusing his Clinton Global Initiative on creating jobs here in the United States.  He suggested waiting for the recovery to take hold before pushing spending cuts and tax increases will make the issues clearer.

"We've got to get the jobs back in this economy again," Clinton said.  "The more people we get going back to work, the more businesses we start, that'll bring up the revenue flow, and it will cut down on the expenses.  Then, we'll see what the real dimensions of our problem are."

Unfortunately, however, Clinton fears Republicans' "ideological conviction" about never raising taxes recalls the lead-up to government shutdowns in the '90s, adding that the pressure on GOP candidates to toe the ideological line could hamstring their bids to unseat President Obama.

"They were in a similar anti-government fever, anti-tax fever in 1995 until, you know, the struggle went on for a year and they shut the government down twice," Clinton said.  "The public made a judgment that that was not right.  And then we finally broke through.  It wound up with the balanced budget act and forced surpluses and real prosperity."

Could the dispute this time push past the Aug. 2 deadline when, officials say, failing to raise the nation's debt ceiling could lead to America defaulting on its loans?  Clinton didn't discount the possibility.

"When I passed my budget in 1993, they routinely said it would bring on a terrible recession, [that] it was the end of capitalism as we knew it," he said.  "And we had the best eight years in our history.  But they just kept saying it.  You've got to give them credit.  The evidence doesn't deter them...It's an ideological conviction.  So, I don't know that it can be resolved until there's some break in the action."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Rep. Anthony Weiner: 'The Picture Was of Me and I Sent It'

ABC NEWS EXCLUSIVE || One of the women involved in the "Weinergate" scandal, Meagan Broussard, in a self portait. ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Rep. Anthony Weiner of New York said Monday he has engaged in "several inappropriate" electronic relationships with six women over three years, and that he publicly lied about a photo of himself sent over Twitter to a college student in Seattle over a week ago.  He said, however, that he would not resign from his post.

"I take full responsibility for my actions," Weiner said. "The picture was of me, and I sent it."

The announcement came as ABC News prepared to release an interview with Meagan Broussard, a 26-year-old single mother from Texas who provided dozens of photos, emails, Facebook messages and cellphone call logs that she says chronicle a sexually-charged electronic relationship with Weiner that rapidly-evolved for more than a month, starting on April 20, 2011.

ABC News reached out to Weiner earlier Monday for comment about his possible ties to Broussard, but he did not respond to requests for an interview. At a press conference later, Weiner confirmed Broussard was one of the women with whom he sexted.

Broussard's story had threatened to expose the secret online life of one of the House Democrats' most popular members, and a man many considered a leading candidate for mayor of New York City.

It also raised new questions about Weiner's explanation for how a photo of a man's groin area ended up on his public Twitter feed on May 27. Monday the Congressman said he accidentally sent the image to a woman, Gennette Cordova, who was following him on Twitter, as a joke.

Broussard said she received the same photo of a man's crotch on May 18 in an email from a man who she then believed was Weiner.

Weiner, who married Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's aide Huma Abedin last year, told ABC News last week that the Twitter incident was a "prank" on him, but he neither confirmed nor denied at the time that the photo depicted his body. "I am reluctant to say anything definitively about this," he said of the photo.

Broussard, who describes herself as disinterested in politics and previously unaware of Weiner, said that she has never met the congressman in person and doesn't "think he's a bad guy." And, she said, she actively participated in "sexting" -- as she has done frequently with other men online -- with the man she presumed to be Weiner.  View an exclusive slideshow of images obtained by ABC News.

Weiner, however, has his work cut out for him when it comes to convincing his fellow members of Congress. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair Steve Israel both called for an Ethics Committee investigation.

"I am deeply disappointed and saddened about this situation; for Anthony's wife, Huma, his family, his staff and his constituents," Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement. "I am calling for an Ethics Committee investigation to determine whether any official resources were used or any other violation of House rules occurred."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio