When Fox News asked Anthony Weiner to weigh in on Benghazi and Bridgegate earlier this month, he said he’s “certainly not a great person to arbitrate on how other people handle their crises.” However, now that Representative Michael Grimm was caught on tape threatening to “break” NY1 reporter Michael Scotto, the former congressman is suddenly a font of advice. In a Daily News op-ed, Weiner offers some tips for Grimm – though he acknowledges “I did a terrible job following these rules.” So why weigh in at all? The bio at the end of the piece gives a big hint: “Weiner is a former congressman representing Brooklyn and Queens. In 2012, he acknowledged informing the FBI in 2010 of an allegation conveyed to him about Grimm’s fund-raising practices.”
Weiner notes, “I know and like both of the players [Scotto and Grimm]” and quips “I only know what I read in the papers about all this. (OK, maybe I know a bit more.)” Otherwise, he doesn’t reference the fact that he went to the FBI after Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto told him that Grimm tried to extort money from him and his followers. The FBI is investigating whether Grimm and former fund-raiser Ofer Biton collected illegal contributions from the congregation. Biton, an Israeli immigrant, pleaded guilty to visa fraud last summer.
Grimm and his allies blasted Weiner after he revealed his involvement in 2012. (One former Staten Island congressman called him “a pervert and proven liar.”) While the tone of Weiner’s op-ed is self-deprecating and conciliatory, he manages to get in a few not-so-subtle jabs at Grimm:
“Better yet, if you don’t want to talk about your fund-raising scandal, maybe just maybe don’t have one to begin with … it does seem like a lot of people are being investigated and indicted in connection with Mikey Suits’ campaign.”
“I’ll leave it to the authorities who are probing this in New York, Washington, Texas and Israel to work out what happened, but it seems like we may be headed for another of those Nixon/Christie ‘mistakes were made’ moments.”
“I know that ‘can you tell us about the status of the ethics investigation into you?’ sounds like fighting words. But it can actually be an invitation to explain some of the messy doings that have swirled around you since nearly the moment you were elected.”
As for what Weiner has learned from making “just about every mistake imaginable in my dealings with reporters,” he recommends laying low if you don’t want to talk about your scandal, not screwing up in the first place, and keeping your cool when answering irritating questions from reporters. And presumably, he’s also realized it’s a bad idea to mock an interviewer’s accent, run through the back door of a McDonald’s to evade the press, and flip off a reporter. What a difference four months makes.