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'Stunned': The politician's daughter who wasn't

By Dana Bash, CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent
updated 12:08 PM EDT, Sat July 20, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Congressman thought woman was his daughter
  • Paternity tests proved otherwise
  • "I was totally stunned," said Congressman Steve Cohen

Washington (CNN) -- "I was totally stunned."

That's how Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tennessee, described his reaction upon finding out the woman he though was his long lost daughter, really wasn't.

"I felt confident that it was for sure that (it) would come out that I was the father," " he told CNN. "When I found out I wasn't, I was floored."

This bizarre story begins with an even more bizarre backstory.

Flashback to February, President Barack Obama's State of the Union address. Washington was abuzz about what appeared to be a salacious social media blunder: during the speech -- the bachelor congressman tweeted "I-L-U " for 'I LOVE YOU' to an attractive young blonde.

Odd twist in model, congressman story
Paternity test proves it
Cohen: 'Stunned' over DNA test results

Cohen, 64, announced that aspiring model Victoria Brink was actually his daughter, something he learned from her mother, an old girlfriend he had recently contacted.

"I couldn't sleep one night and I Googled her and it came out that she had a bio written up on her webpage and it said she had a daughter Victoria. So I Facebooked, searched her daughter and it turns out she had this daughter born on the 22nd of April in '88 and that was kind of when we were together," said Cohen.

Cohen says his old flame told him that her daughter looked like him.

"So that is what it was, and I wrote Victoria a letter and she wrote me back and she said, 'This is very difficult for me. All my life I thought somebody else was my father.'"

CNN intended to do a story about a congressman finding his daughter late in life. But during the process, Victoria and the man she'd always thought was her father, wanted to do paternity tests to be sure.

The result was a stunner. Texas oilman John Brink, the man who raised her, was actually her biological father, not the congressman.

Cohen said he only took a DNA test because Victoria wanted it.

"She said that she didn't know who her biological father was, and for her mental health she needed it. I had avoided it but I would do anything for her," said Cohen.

Despite the letdown of learning Victoria is not his biological daughter, Cohen says he enjoyed introducing her as his daughter at Washington events, like the White House Christmas party. He still keeps pictures of her on his walls at the office, and at home.

For him the short three-year period he thought Victoria was his daughter was enough to cement his love for her.

"We still communicate. I still care about her greatly and I think she cares about me and I hope and plan to continue to have a relationship. I think of her still as my daughter," he said.

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