U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner with his wife, Huma Abedin
US Rep. Anthony Weiner yesterday spent the day on the grill after a lewd photo purporting to be of him was sent to a pretty Seattle coed from his Twitter account -- but the young woman insisted a stalker was the culprit.
The six-term Democratic congressman struggled to play defense as rumors swirled, continuing to insist that the illicit tweet -- a below-the-waist photo of a man in bulging gray boxer-briefs -- was the work of a hacker. His rep called the incident nothing more than "a distraction."
The woman on the receiving end of the tawdry tweet -- 21-year-old Gennette Nicole Cordova -- said in a statement published in another New York newspaper that she was sure the questionable photo came from a person who had harassed her many times "after the congressman followed me on Twitter a month or so ago."
She insisted that while she's a "fan" of Weiner, she'd never met him in person.
Cordova did admit she once sent a tweet referring to "my boyfriend @Rep-Weiner," but insisted she never was his "wife, girlfriend or mistress,"
In fact, she said, she'd jokingly made "similar assertions" about other public figures, including President Obama; Boston Celtic guard Ray Allen and soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo.
She said the motive of the man who harassed her was "defaming" Weiner."
And she added she's never had an "inappropriate exchange" with Weiner.
Still, it appeared that Cordova and Weiner -- a prolific user of social-networking sites who has run for mayor and indicated he will do so again -- had some interaction on Twitter before.
Cordova began following Weiner on Twitter during the time his own tweets previously placed him in Seattle, and according to her statement, he began "following" her on the site, too.
Despite the quiet holiday weekend, Capitol Hill was buzzing about what quickly became known as Weinergate.
Some DC wonks were skeptical of Weiner's hacking story and questioned the lack of a police report about a crime as serious as Internet identity theft, a Washington insider said.
The uncertainty was also fed by Weiner's decision to quickly delete the posted photo -- and every other photo connected to the account.
As for Cordova, she took her Twitter and Facebook pages down after her name surfaced in connection with the congressman.
Weiner's rep, Dave Arnold, told The Post yesterday, "This is intended to be a distraction, and we're not going to let it become one.
"Anthony's accounts were obviously hacked. He doesn't know the person named by the hacker, and we will be consulting on what steps to take next."
Weiner, who represents parts of Brooklyn and Queens, was married last summer to Huma Abedin, a former aide to Hillary Rodham Clinton.