Eric Massa Says he Groped Staffer -- Non Sexually

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Eric Massa
CBS



Updated March 10, 8:45 a.m. Eastern Time

Eric Massa, the New York Democrat who resigned from the House in the wake of a House ethics inquiry into charges that he behaved inappropriately with male staffers, told Fox News' Glenn Beck Tuesday that he did grope a staffer.

"Yeah, I did," he said when asked if he had groped a staffer. "Not only did I grope him, I tickled him 'til he couldn't breathe and then four guys jumped on me. It was my 50th birthday."

He said he never touched or groped anyone sexually, however. "I did nothing sexual," Massa said, adding that he did not act criminally.

Following the Fox interview, however, Massa appeared on CNN's "Larry King Live," where he said, "I never admitted groping."

After pressed on the issue by King, Massa said, "Well, it wasn't sexual, period."

Massa said on Fox he had been warned that it was inappropriate that he shared a townhouse with five members of his staff. He said that was where the tickling incident took place.

"My chief of staff said, 'You can't live there; it's not Congressional,'" he told Beck.

Massa also said he had used "inappropriate language," and that he takes "full and complete responsibility for my misbehavior."

Reports broke Tuesday afternoon that Massa was under investigation by the House ethics committee for allegations he groped at least three male staffers and had conducted himself improperly with interns and aides.

"My behavior was wrong," Massa told Beck. "I should have never allowed myself to be as familiar with my staff as I was. I never translated from my days in the Navy to being a Congressman."

Massa then pulled out a book showing a Navy "Crossing the Line" ceremony and compared it to an "orgy in Caligula," saying behavior in the Navy in the past would not be considered acceptable today.

Massa had previously acknowledged he grabed an aide at a wedding and joked that he should be "frakking" him before touching the aide's hair and leaving.

"I wasn't forced out. I forced myself out. I failed," he told Beck. "I didn't live up to my own codes. I own this."

Massa has previously charged that the White House forced him out because of his opposition to health care reform legislation, a charge White House press secretary has called "ridiculous" and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer deemed "absurd."

"This administration and this House leadership have said, quote-unquote, they will stop at nothing to pass this health care bill, and now they've gotten rid of me and it will pass," he said.

He has accused White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel of intimidation and suggested Emanuel angrily approached him in the shower over a vote.

"Rahm Emanuel hates me," Massa told Beck.

Massa complained that lawmakers have no choice but to continually raise money for their reelection, deeming the system "out of control." He suggested the situation amounted to "bribery" in which votes are essentially bought and sold and complained of spending five hours per day "begging for money."

Massa showed Beck an x-ray while discussing the recurrence of cancer that he has cited as one reason he is leaving office.

"I have completely abandoned my family for five years," Massa said in explaining his decision to resign, saying he no longer had the "life energy" to remain in Congress.

Beck called the interview a waste of time as he wrapped up his show.

Massa has become something of a conservative hero in recent days for his claims about the White House and Congressional Democrats, an odd development in light of his progressive beliefs. Rush Limbaugh vowed to make his claims a "national story" and The Drudge Report trumpeted his claim that Emanuel is "the devil's spawn" who "who would sell his mother to get a vote."

His resignation means the ethics committee will not investigate his conduct.

White House: Massa's Excuse for Resignation "Ridiculous"

Massa Lashes Out at Rahm Emanuel

Eric Massa to Retire Amid Cancer Fight, Harassment Allegations

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