Congressman Defends Controversial Remarks To Reporter And Racial Tweet He Sent Over The Weekend


Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Monday, in an attempt to clear up misunderstandings over his relationship with 24-year-old aspiring swimsuit model Victoria Brink and a slew of recent controversial comments and tweets.

After Cohen raised eyebrows by tweeting at Brink during the State of the Union address in February, he told reporters that the woman, far from being a romantic interest, was his long-lost illegitimate daughter.

The story held until last week, when a CNN paternity test revealed that there was absolutely no chance that Cohen and Brink were related.

Cohen reiterated that, despite the lack of biological evidence, he had good reason to believe he was the father of the 24-year-old swimsuit model: he said Brink’s mother had told him he was back in 2010. 

Cohen appeared on “Morning JOe” partially to refute an earlier interview with Politico’s Mike Allen, in which he expressed significant scepticism at the legitimacy of Cohen’ story. 

“He could have said that Eli Manning played for the Charlotte Hornets and he’d have been as correct,” Cohen said. “He was just false.”

He explained that the intentions behind his February tweets to Brink, which he deleted but which was cataloged by Politiwoops, a site that saves politicians’ deleted tweets, was entirely innocent and had been twisted by the media. 

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“They got it into an Anthony Weiner thing,” Cohen said. “I was thrilled she was watching the State of the Union. She’s been raised in Texas and her main issues are Louis Vuitton and expensive, stylish clothes and fun and going to see her boyfriend. I’ve been trying to teach her about government. My daughter needs to know about politics and government.” 

Cohen also accused media coverage of the paternity testing of editing his current relationship with Brink.

After the finding out the results of the paternity test, she told CNN that Cohen was “not her father,” but he insists that she followed up with “not my biological father,” which was cut out. 

“She was saying we still had a relationship and she sent me a beautiful Father’s Day card. It said ‘you will always be my father in many ways,'” he said. 

Cohen tried to switch the focus to several race-related bills he’s introduced in Congress, but “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski wasn’t done with him yet.

Brzezinski wanted an explanation for his latest social media woes, a Sunday tweet about an African-American tow-truck driver who told Cohen he was “black” because of his paternity drama:

Cohen said the tweet was meant to be “funny,” after his car, an ’86 Cadillac, died for the second time in two weeks, something that the tow-truck driver could sympathize with because “a lot of African-Americans drive old cars,” he said.  Cohen also defended a remark he made to a female reporter last week, when he said she was “very attractive” upon her asking about his daughter-related drama.

“I come out and tell him the story,” Cohen said. “I said I’ve had a tough week, let me tell you. Find daughter, great. Find out it’s not daughter, blitz. Say something nice to reporter, get attacked. It’s just been hell. He goes, ‘man, you’re black.” 

Cohen said he took it as a compliment, one he hears frequently in the district he represents in Memphis, where his constituents don’t look at him as a white person but as “one of us.” 

Brzezinski suggested that it “might not be worth it” for Cohen to keep up his Twitter given his ability to generate controversy with fewer than 140 characters. 

“I would say from your history of deleting tweets and from this misunderstanding, let’s keep it to the real conversation and not Twitter,” she said.

You can watch the full “Morning Joe” segment below:

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