Watch CBSN Live

Probe could give Weiner more headaches: expert

New York City Congressman Anthony Weiner has not asked the FBI or U.S. Capitol Police to investigate a bizarre Twitter incident in which a lewd photo of a man's groin was sent to his 45,000 followers from his account.

Weiner told CBS News Congressional Correspondent Nancy Cordes in an interview Wednesday he has asked a law firm and an Internet security operation to "give advice" on the situation.

He said, "I don't believe this is a federal case, I don't believe that this is a capital crime. I believe this is a bit of mischief."

But why is Weiner so seemingly reluctant to involve law enforcement authorities in the case?

On "The Early Show" Thursday, CBS News Legal Analyst Jack Ford said if he's not pursuing official assistance in this situation, it's about not getting wrapped up official statements.

"If I'm a lawyer, and I'm representing a politician, in general, it's not against the law to lie to the media. It's not against the law to lie to your constituents. It is against the law to lie to law enforcement authorities," he said. "Martha Stewart went to jail not for insider trading, but for lying. Barry Bonds gets charged, goes to trial, not for using steroids - for lying about it. So if I'm a lawyer looking at a case such as this, I'm going to be real careful before I let my clients talk to law enforcement authorities, because I don't want to find my client, you know, jammed up here criminally because, despite what happened here, they're not telling the truth."

Ford said the content of the tweet also has to be considered.

"There are laws against sending out pornography on your account," he explained. "People will look at this and say, 'This might be really distasteful, but it's not pornographic.' You know, the young lady, if she felt she was being harassed in some fashion. But she hasn't expressed that. And you might say one instance of something like this wouldn't rise to that level, either. I don't think you're really talking about possible criminal activity there."

However, this situation may escalate to an investigation by an ethics committee, Ford said.

"Congress has the ability to investigate its own. And they have the capacity to censure somebody, to suspend somebody, even to remove somebody if they find there's conduct unbecoming a representative, a member of Congress. Those are pretty elastic, but certainly they have the ability to take a look at it."

Ford said it doesn't look like authorities, even if laws were broken, would prosecute.

Instead of pursuing police action, Weiner has been trying to quiet the story through several interviews. In each discussion, he refused to confirm or deny whether the picture is of him.

In her interview with Weiner, Cordes said, "Congressman, I think the main question that everyone has is was that a picture of you."

He replied, "Well, the main question that a lot of people are asking is did I send the photograph, I did not. This was a prank, a hoax."

Weiner told CBS News the picture of a man's groin in grey underwear does not look familiar, but left open the possibility that it was him.

Weiner said, "Photographs can be inserted, photographs can be manipulated. We're trying to get to the bottom of it."

Cordes noted Weiner's remarks are a confusing twist to a story made for the tabloids. The racy tweet was addressed to a 21-year-old female college student from Washington State.

Cordes asked, "So assuming that it was a picture of you, because I think that that's the conclusion that a lot of people are going to draw? Do you think that someone knew that you had a photo like that in your account and then knew enough of your account information to be able to hack into it and send it?"

Weiner said, "Look this is exactly the problem that we have with this issue. And I just want you to respect the idea that at some point the questions can get more, and more and more invasive and bizarre."

Supporters of Weiner note that it was right wing blogger Andrew Breitbart who broke the story. But Breitbart tells CBS News he had nothing to do with the supposed hack.

Breitbart said, "It's certainly not true that I'm behind this. I was at my kitchen island on Friday night when I was notified."

Weiner is known in Washington for his fiery liberal rhetoric and his sharp-tongued tweets.

Weiner says he was watching a hockey game Friday night when he noticed the offending tweet, deleted it and told his followers he'd been hacked. All that happened, Cordes reported, before the 21-year-old student the tweet was addressed to even saw it.

When asked if he had private conversations, e-mail conversations or Twitter conversations with the woman before, Weiner said, "I don't know this woman, she doesn't know me. She's made that very clear, and I'm making that that very clear."

Weiner said he has not spoken with the woman since the tweet was sent.