Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) resigned from the House on Thursday afternoon, bowing to mounting pressure from Democratic leaders and weeks of public ridicule.
Weiner announced his decision to resign at a press conference in Brooklyn, saying, “I am here today to again apologize. ... I make this apology to my neighbors and constituents.”
Weiner also said that while “I had hoped to continue the work ... unfortunately the distraction I have created has made that impossible.”
Weiner’s brief press conference — which was repeatedly interrupted by hecklers — was markedly different from one he held 10 days ago in which he acknowledged he had lied to his family, the media and his colleagues over a string of online affairs he had with at least six women. Weiner’s first press conference was a rambling, awkward performance in which he took dozens of questions from the press.
By contrast, Weiner’s Thursday press conference was roughly five minutes long, and he did not take questions. Wiener’s wife, Huma Abedin, was not on stage with him.
For more than a week, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other leaders have been trying to oust Weiner from his seat, arguing that he was hurting his party and family.
After Weiner’s announcement, Pelosi issued a statement, saying, “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. I pray for him and his family and wish them well.”
Earlier in the day, she had declined to comment on news that he was expected to resign.
The scandal, which revolved around his online relationships with at least six women, quickly became a national spectacle. Photographs of Weiner’s genitals were quickly leaked, as were photographs of a scantily clad Weiner flexing in the mirror of the House’s Members-only gym.
Weiner even drew the interest of infamous scandal attorney Gloria Allred. On Wednesday, Allred held a press conference with Ginger Lee, a former porn star and currently a featured dancer on the national strip club circuit. Lee, who corresponded with Weiner on Twitter, called on the Congressman to resign.
The three-week media barrage had become a major problem for Democrats. Pelosi and the Democratic Caucus had been on a political roll in the days leading up to the scandal, criticizing Republicans over their proposal to reform Medicare, and they saw it evaporate almost instantly.
Even those few people who had sought to defend Weiner, including Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.), faulted his handling of the scandal. “I think this is a sad situation and it could have ended differently,” Pascrell told reporters.
Thursday’s resignation marked an abrupt end to a remarkable political career. A protégé of Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Weiner made his debut on the political stage in 1992 with an improbable come-from-behind win in his first bid for the New York City Council. When Schumer moved from the House to the Senate in 1998, Weiner took his seat.
Weiner quickly made a name for himself as a fierce defender of liberal political causes and a harsh critic of the Bush administration and Congressional Democrats.