Embattled New York Rep. Anthony Weiner quit this afternoon, three weeks after the scandal about his Twitter pictures exploded.
The humiliated New York congressman took the stage at 2.21 p.m. to announce the end of his 20-year political career in the same senior center where it started. His news conference was over within four minutes. The fiery left-wing Democrat walked away without answering any questions.
His pregnant wife, Huma Abedin, who had returned Wednesday from an overseas trip with her boss, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, was noticeably absent. She was spotted entering the couple’s home in the New York borough of Queens shortly before her husband made his announcement.
“I apologize for the personal mistakes I have made and the embarrassment I have caused to my neighbors, my constituents and particularly to my wife, Huma,” Weiner said.
Weiner took time to thank other members of Congress, “Democrats and Republicans alike,” adding, “Now I’ll be looking for other ways to contribute my talents so that we live up to that most New York and American of ideals. The ideal that a family, a community, and ultimately a country is the one thing that unites us.”
Weiner was heckled throughout his statement with crude comments from people who had infiltrated the news conference.
“I had hoped to be able to continue the work that the citizens of my district had elected me to do, to fight for the middle class and those struggling to make it,” Weiner said. “Unfortunately, the distraction I have created has made that impossible.
“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 I have caused.”
The 46-year-old congressman bowed to the inevitable after discussing his position with his wife, who returned to their Washington home early on Wednesday morning. He and Abedin have been married for less than a year.
According to ABC News, he informed House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of his decision Wednesday night, the day before Democrats were to consider stripping him of his committee assignments.
Leading party members initially said it was up to him whether he should resign, but they changed their position as the scandal grew, with Pelosi and Whip Steny Hoyer both calling on him to step down. President Barack Obama also said that he would quit if he were in Weiner’s position.
Republicans, initially led by House leader Eric Cantor and later joined by Speaker John Boehner, also called on him to resign.
The House Ethics Committee formally opened an investigation to see whether he broke any House rules. That will now end as the committee only has powers over sitting members.
The Democrat’s embarrassing fall from grace over what became known as “Weinergate” brought to an end a sideshow that had embarrassed Congress. It started with a picture of a bulging pair of gray boxer briefs posted on Weiner’s Twitter page. The Democratic congressman had meant to send it to 21-year-old Seattle journalism student Gennette Cordova in a private message but mistyped and it went out to all 45,000 of his followers.
For 10 days he lied, saying his Twitter account had been hacked, before he finally confessed at a tearful news conference June 6 that he had sexted with six different women and lied to cover up his misdeeds. They included a porn star who claimed he had asked her to lie and had offered her public relations help.
He was further embarrassed when an X-rated picture of his genitals that he had sent one of the women was leaked on to the Internet and again when semi-nude pictures he had taken of himself in the House gym emerged.
Last weekend, Weiner, whose district includes parts of Brooklyn and Queens, asked for a leave of absence from the House to enter rehab, but things continued to get worse for him when it was revealed that he also had been sending private messages to a 17-year-old in Delaware. There has been no suggestion that those messages were of a sexual nature.
Weiner is the second New York congressman to resign this year. Married Republican Christopher Lee quit in February after it was revealed he had sent a shirtless picture of to a woman who had posted an ad on Craigslist looking for a man.
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