Weiner resigns in wake of sex photos scandal
(AP) - Seared by scandal, New York Rep. Anthony Weinerannounced his resignation from Congress on Thursday, done in bylewd photos he took of himself, sent to women online and thenadamantly lied about after being caught.
"I'm here today to again apologize for the personal mistakes Ihave made and the embarrassment I have caused," he said readingfrom a brief statement in Brooklyn.
"I make this apology to my neighbors and my constituents, but Imake it particularly to my wife, Huma."
Weiner's wife was absent as he announced his decision, as shewas 10 days ago when he admitted having sent inappropriate messagesand photos to several women online.
Weiner said he had hoped to remain in Congress but conceded hispredicament had made that impossible. Instead, he said he wouldresign "so my colleagues can get back to work, my neighbors canchoose a new representative and, most importantly, that my wife andI can continue to heal from the damage I have caused."
In part, that echoed what party leaders have said for days asthey pressured him to resign so Democrats could resume positioningthemselves for the 2012 election campaign without constantcriticism from Republicans on moral grounds.
Weiner made his announcement at the same senior citizen centerin Brooklyn where he announced his candidacy for the New York citycouncil in 1992. He did not take questions, leaving unsaid whetherhis resignation from Congress marked an end to his career, orperhaps an ignominious pause for a brash liberal with ambitions tobecome mayor of New York.
The crowd on Thursday included hecklers and radio shock jocks,vying for attention at what became a New York media event.
Weiner, 46, has been on leave from the House since last weekend.He had not been seen in public since telling reporters on Saturdaymorning he intended to return to work.
One official said Weiner telephoned House Democratic leaderNancy Pelosi and Rep. Steve Israel of New York, the head of theparty campaign committee, on Wednesday evening to tell them of hisplans to quit.
They had pressured him to resign, concluding the relentlessmedia focus on his activities was complicating the Democrats'efforts to position themselves politically for the 2012 elections.
Weiner's decision to give up his House seat marks the end of anearly three-week sex scandal without the sex - an event thatresulted from the brash New Yorker's use of social media such asTwitter and Facebook.
He at first denied having sent any inappropriate photos, thenrecanted in a remarkable news conference 10 days ago at which headmitted having exchanged inappropriate messages with severalwomen.
His confession triggered a tabloid-style frenzy in print andonline that only grew more pronounced a few days later when anX-rated photo surfaced on a website.
After initially calling for a House ethics committeeinvestigation, Pelosi dramatically ramped up the pressure onSaturday when she joined with Israel and Rep. Debbie WassermanSchultz of Florida, leader of the Democratic National Committee, incalling on Weiner to step down.
Within hours, Weiner disclosed his plans to enter treatment, andPelosi's aides made it known that did not negate her demand for aresignation.
President Barack Obama added to the pressure on Monday, sayingit he were in Weiner's situation, he would step down.
Several officials have said in recent days that Weiner wasreluctant to make any decision about his career without speakingwith his wife, a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary RodhamClinton who had been overseas since shortly after the scandalbroke. The trip ended Tuesday night.
Abedin is pregnant with the couple's first child.
Weiner's outspoken, in-your-face style cheered liberalsupporters and angered conservatives. He even irritated some partyleaders in 2009 when he led the charge for a government-run healthcare system long after the White House had made it clear that Obamawas opposed.
Weiner's district includes parts of Queens and Brooklyn. NewYork Gov. Andrew Cuomo has the authority to call a special electionto fill the seat once the congressman submits his resignation.
Weiner's political problems began on May 28 whenBigGovernment.com, a website run by conservative commentator AndrewBreitbart, posted a lewd photograph of an underwear-clad crotch andsaid it had been sent from Weiner's Twitter account to a Seattlewoman.
Initially, Weiner lied, saying his account had been hacked. Buthe pointedly did not report the incident to law enforcement - astep that could have led the way to charges of wrongdoing far moreserious than mere sexting.
Additionally, his public denials were less than solid -particularly when he told an interviewer that he could not "saywith certitude" that he wasn't the man in the underwear photo.
Still, the congressman said he had retained an attorney andhired a private security company to figure out how someone couldpull off such a prank.
Weiner entered politics as an aide to then-Rep. Chuck Schumer,who represented parts of Brooklyn.
Now a senator, Schumer was one of only a few senior partyleaders who refrained from calling publicly on his protDegDe to quitas the furor enveloped him in recent days.
Weiner served on the New York City Council from 1992 until hiselection to the House in 1998, taking over the seat vacated bySchumer when he made his successful Senate bid.