WASHINGTON — New York Rep. Anthony Weiner testily fended off questions Tuesday about the lewd photo sent from his Twitter account and has hired a lawyer to help him figure out to how respond.

Weiner spokesman Dave Arnold said the Democrat believes it was a prank but he’s retained a lawyer to advise him on what civil or criminal actions should be taken.

The photo, which showed a man’s bulging underpants, was posted on Friday and sent to a female college student in Seattle. It was quickly deleted, but a frenzy of coverage and comment ensued on blogs, cable news outlets and other media.

The colorful and sometimes combative congressman who represents parts of Brooklyn and Queens was characteristically sharp tongued, refusing to answer reporters’ questions about it, and even calling one a “jackass” for interrupting him.

He insisted that he wanted to move on from the incident, which was distracting from his work on Capitol Hill. But there was no sign that the story, or the speculation about who may have been responsible for tweeting the photo, was fading.

Weiner failed in a 2005 bid for the Democratic nomination for mayor of New York, but he is still considered a future contender.