Scandal-plagued Rep. Anthony Weiner resigned Thursday during a news conference in Brooklyn. In a packed room at the senior citizens center where he kicked off his political career 20 years ago, Weiner apologized to his constituents and his wife, and acknowledged that he’d become a distraction for lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
“Today I am announcing my resignation from Congress so my colleagues can get back to work, my neighbors can choose a new representative and most importantly, so that my wife and I can continue to heal from the damage that I have caused,” he said.
The resignation comes after many revelations about the New York congressman's lewd online relationships with women.
“Congressman Weiner exercised poor judgment in his actions and poor judgment in his reaction to the revelations. Today, he made the right judgment in resigning,” said Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi in a statement following the announcement.
Less than two weeks ago, Weiner admitted to a “deep personal failing” that led him to post and send lewd photos of himself via Twitter. At a press conference in New York, the Democrat also admitted to conducting inappropriate relationships online with approximately six women before and after his marriage last July to Huma Abedin, who is pregnant with their first child. He also said that he’d never personally met any of the women to whom the photos were sent and was adamant in his refusal to resign.
What a difference two weeks make. After ignoring calls from high-ranking Democrats and Republicans and a strong suggestion from President Obama to step down, Weiner, who’d been on leave from the House to seek treatment, finally accepted the inevitable. Wednesday night, he called Pelosi and New York Rep. Steve Israel, who chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, to inform them of his decision.
Hours before Weiner’s announcement, Israel told reporters that he’d called for Weiner to resign from day one. He said that Weiner’s behavior was both reckless and a distraction.
“Last week Republicans proposed a bill to privatize Social Security,” he said. “But most people don’t know about that because of Anthony Weiner.”
Questionable behavior aside, what really troubled many lawmakers was the fact that Weiner initially lied and placed blame for a photo sent to a Washington State college student on a hacker. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-New Jersey) said that if Weiner had been straightforward with his colleagues “he would have seen less of ‘You gotta go” and that the situation “could have ended differently.”
Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Emanuel Cleaver (D-Missouri) said he personally doesn’t like Weiner but strongly believes that forcing him out of Congress sets a bad precedent, particularly when so many of his constituents wanted him to stay in office.
“Weiner hasn’t been indicted, he hasn’t been found by the ethics committee to have violated the rules of the House of Representatives, and his constituents by a significant percentage say that they want him to remain as their representative. I don’t understand why we drove him out of Congress,” Cleaver said.