July 22nd, 2013
09:32 AM ET
9 years ago

Growing emotional, Cohen talks about the daughter he thought he had

(CNN) - With tears welling up in his eyes, Rep. Steve Cohen talked about his disappointment Monday in learning that the long-lost daughter he found out about three years ago was not in fact his daughter.

"She was my family," the longtime bachelor said on CNN's "New Day." "She was my only family."

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The Democrat who represents Memphis revealed in February that a young blonde he had been tweeting during the State of the Union address was actually his 23-year-old daughter, Victoria Brink.

Brink's mother, Cynthia Sinatra White, told Cohen in 2010 that Victoria Brink was his biological daughter, but she had been raised her whole life by White's husband, John Brink, an oil businessman in Houston.

Cohen, who has never had children of his own, said he was "ecstatic" to find out he had a daughter.

Cohen: Her mother told me she was my daughter

Cohen and Victoria Brink started developing a close relationship. The congressman brought her to Washington and they met at least a couple times a year.

"I had visions of her being my heir and going to her wedding and having grandchildren," he told CNN's Chris Cuomo.

But the family had kept it all a secret from John Brink–that is, until the week of the president's State of the Union address.

Despite a frenzy of media questions over the young, attractive swimsuit model that Cohen had been messaging during the speech, Cohen waited a few days to announce that Victoria Brink was in fact his daughter, buying time for Victoria to come clean with John Brink.

"I had political advisers say 'just come out and say it.' I said I can't do that. I'll take whatever political consequences there are with that, unless it comes to the point that she tells her father," he said.

Victoria Brink eventually told her father that week, and Cohen opened up about the news that he had a daughter.

'New Day' Exclusive: DNA test proves congressman not model's father

But the congressman and his newly-discovered daughter didn't have much time to continue forming a true father-daughter bond. In another twist, DNA test results provided to CNN by Victoria Brink a few months later showed there was zero chance that Cohen could be Victoria Brink's father.

Victoria Brink called Cohen about the results earlier this summer. The news completely took him by surprise.

"It's been heartbreaking and devastating, and I've just been crushed," he said, also describing it as a "personal tragedy."

As tears started forming, Cohen offered a moment of levity.

"I don't want to be John Boehner," he joked, making a reference to the House speaker's tendency to get teary-eyed.

The congressman said Victoria Brink had been "first" in his life for the past three years. But despite the DNA test results, Cohen vowed the two will still have a relationship, even if it's not the one he was expecting to have.

"She sent me a beautiful bouquet of flowers for Father's Day," he said. "And as sweet as she could be, she said you'll always be my father in some ways."

Filed under: Steve Cohen
soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. Rudy NYC

    Congressman, you really need to stop talkling about this in public. It is a private matter. Keep it that way. The issue has absolutely nothing to do with your job as a member of Congress. Decline all further questions and interviews about it, dude.

    July 22, 2013 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  2. Marie MD

    Fine, good. Let's move on.

    July 22, 2013 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  3. S.B. Stein

    I can understand his person frustration with this.

    @Rudy NYC - I can understand your feelings. I agree that this shouldn't be as out in the open as it is, but there is going to be some idiot that is going to want to know "forcing" CNN to talk about this.

    July 22, 2013 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  4. enuff

    Finally, someone in Washington that doesn't deny having a relationship and wanted the consequences that resulted from it.

    July 22, 2013 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  5. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    This "misunderstanding", if you can call it that, went on for 5 years if I rad a previous article correctly.
    Five years is a long time for a young lady and a grown man to not confirm one way or another whether or not she was his child.
    Were there any gifts that he thinking himself her dad bestowed upon this young lady?
    It just seems to me that this type of relationship, father-daughter, needed to be confirmed one way oir another long before this, even if it was kept between the two of them. To go on the "assumption" that he was her father I find to be beyond disingenuous.

    July 22, 2013 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  6. just sayin

    i wish cnn had as many stories on the ticker about the implosion of obamacare as they do about this thing. it was barely worth one short mention, if that. or maybe the irs scandal that ha snow reached all the way back to washington dc to an an obama political appointee. chop chop cnn.

    July 22, 2013 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  7. it must be said

    if the daughter wasn't so good looking, this wouldn't have even gotten a mention. just tellin' it like it is.

    July 22, 2013 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  8. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    ...Having said that, I concur with other posters that it is nobody's business but their own.
    Strange way to handle things though....

    July 22, 2013 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  9. Data Driven

    @just sayin,

    Obamacare didn't "implode"; the business mandate provision was delayed for a year. That story was covered. Also, the IRS "targeted" groups across the political spectrum, and in any case no evidence emerged showing that the Administration directed any of those actions. That story was also covered.

    July 22, 2013 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  10. Data Driven

    @it must be said,


    CNN: please knock it off.

    July 22, 2013 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  11. Mikey

    "i wish cnn had as many stories on the ticker about the implosion of obamacare"
    Wow, a delay in implementation of some parts of the law to allow more time for business to make changes and for the exchanges to be established equals an "implosion" – only on planet wingnut. LOL

    July 22, 2013 11:17 am at 11:17 am |