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Cohen and the difficult decision

  • Written by Ashley Killough/CNN

SteveCohen-600Congressman Steve Cohen of Memphis said the decision to publicly acknowledge he had a daughter he didn't know about until three years ago was difficult for both of them.

In an interview with CNN's "The Situation Room" on Friday, Rep. Steve Cohen, a Democrat, described how an Internet search for a former romantic interest led him to discover the woman has a daughter. She bears a striking resemblance to him.

"My staff people looked at her pictures and they said, 'I think she's your daughter,'" Cohen told CNN's Kate Bolduan.

The issue was forced into the open by a series of tweets between father and daughter during President Barack Obama's State of the Union address.

The daughter, Victoria Brink, 24, tweeted that she saw him on television during the speech. He responded on Twitter with "ilu," short for "I love you."

Cohen later deleted the tweet after realizing it was public rather than sent privately.

He tweeted, then deleted, again, saying: "Nice to know you were watchin SOTU(state of the union). Happy Valentines beautiful girl. ilu."

The tweets were archived online by Sunlight Foundation's "Politwoops," which stores deleted tweets from politicians.

The curious tweets between the two set off questions among some in the media and his constituents.

Following questions raised about a possible romantic relationship with Brink, a Texas State University student who also posed as a swimsuit model, the 63-year-old bachelor went public Thursday with the news that she was his daughter.

Cohen said the secrecy was to prevent Brink's father – the man who raised her – from feeling hurt.

"I couldn't say anything without her permission and that would involve her father, and we couldn't do that until we felt like it was necessary," he told CNN.

Brink's father was unaware of Cohen, although the congressman has brought Brink to Washington and the two have spent time in Memphis together, including a trip to Graceland.

The situation this week, Cohen said, was highlighted by Republicans.

"The National Republican Congressional campaign committee, the Tennessee Republican Party, were comparing me to Anthony Weiner, which was absurd to start with," he said.

Weiner, the former New York congressman, resigned from office in 2011 when his online communications with several women were revealed after he posted a public tweet.

"They were making it out like it was something that was perverted and it was disgusting to her, I'm sure, and hurtful to her and I didn't like it either," Cohen said.

Brink's mother is Texas criminal defense attorney Cynthia White Sinatra, who was once married to Frank Sinatra Jr. – the son of the legendary singer. Brink's mother also ran unsuccessfully against then-Rep. Ron Paul in a 2006 Republican primary.

Cohen has said that he regrets not being there for Brink's childhood, but thinks fondly of how their relationship has grown over the three years since they first met – a "wonderful moment that I'll never forget," he said.

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