(CNN) – Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tennessee, who said he was “stunned and dismayed” to learn that a 23-year-old aspiring model was not his long-lost daughter, said Thursday night that he had taken the word of her mother.
“Congressman Cohen believed that Victoria Brink was his daughter because, in 2010, Victoria’s mother told him so. In 2009, Victoria’s mother had also told Victoria the same,” a spokesman for the congressman told CNN in a statement.
But results from a recent DNA test obtained exclusively by CNN showed that Cohen was not her biological father.
The congressman’s statement marks the latest development in a bizarre story that started earlier this year during President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address. Brink tweeted that she saw Cohen on television during the speech, and he responded saying: “ilu,” short for “I love you.” He later deleted it, as well as other messages to Brink.
After reporters raised questions about Cohen’s messages to the mysterious young blonde, he revealed that Brink was his daughter, a woman he had just found out about a few years prior.
Asked at the time how he found out about his daughter, the longtime bachelor said he was thinking about her mother one day.
“I Googled her mother and found her mother again. And when I did, I found that she’s had a daughter and given birth on a time that would have been a time when we were involved,” he said in February.
When he called Cynthia White Sinatra, Brink’s mother, she told him they had “a lot of catching up to do,” Cohen said.
Sinatra, a Texas criminal defense attorney, was once married to Frank Sinatra Jr. She also ran unsuccessfully against then-Rep. Ron Paul in the 2006 Republican primary.
Sinatra declined to be part of CNN’s story on the DNA test, but says she has a good relationship with Victoria.
The man who raised Victoria Brink, Houston oilman John Brink, was unaware of the situation, as the family had kept it secret until February. But since being told about his relationship with Victoria Brink, Cohen had brought her to Washington and the two had spent time together in Memphis, including a trip to Graceland.
The flare-up after the State of the Union forced Victoria Brink to tell her father.
“We met up and I told my dad. We cried and he said, ‘No matter what, I love you. You’re my daughter’,” Brink told CNN’s Miguel Marquez.
Marquez asked John Brink how tough it was to find out that the woman he helped raise was not his biological daughter.
“Honestly, the most difficult thing I’ve done,” John Brink said.
Cohen declined to be interviewed on camera for the story, which aired Thursday morning, but released a statement saying he was shocked at the results buts he still cares about their relationship.
“I still love Victoria, hold dear the time I have shared with her and hope to continue to be part of her life,” he said.
Cohen also tweeted about the episode Friday morning.
“2 those who have been understanding/supportive thru this drama(NOT scandal) thank you!difficult to endure,and with press-worse!#Memphis rest,” he wrote.