Embattled Rep. Anthony Weiner sought to tamp down criticism over his social media sex scandal late Wednesday, as the ranks of Congressional Democrats calling for his resignation continued to grow.
The New York Democrat’s camp reiterated in a statement that he never met the women he communicated with online and that he is working to make amends with his family and colleagues.
Among those calling for Weiner to exit Wednesday was Rep. Allyson Schwartz (Pa.), a leader of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, leading to increasing chatter that the Congressman might not be able to survive through week’s end.
The statement from Weiner’s office, however, gave no indication he was close to resigning.
“He has never met any of these women or had physical contact with them. As he said, he deeply regrets the pain he has caused,” spokeswoman Risa Heller said.
She added, “With the full support of his wife, he is working on righting these wrongs with his family and his colleagues.”
Heller also sought to indirectly address reports that Weiner had sent nude photographs of himself to the women, including a photo allegedly of Weiner’s penis that was posted on Gawker.com and other websites Wednesday.
“As Rep. Weiner said on Monday when he took responsibility for his actions, he has sent explicit photos,” Heller said.
The early evening statement capped another difficult day for Weiner. In addition to the release of the photo by conservative activist Andrew Brietbart, the New York Times and other outlets reported that Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin, is pregnant.
It also came after Schwartz, the DCCC’s chairwoman of recruitment and candidate services, became the first member of leadership to publicly come out in favor of Weiner resigning.
“Having the respect of your constituents is fundamental for a Member of Congress,” Schwartz said in a statement. “In light of Anthony Weiner’s offensive behavior online, he should resign.”
In New York, speculation is increasing about which Democrats might be in the running to succeed Weiner if he were to resign.
Among the names reported as possible contenders are former city Councilman Eric Gioia, former city Councilwoman Melinda Katz, city Councilman Mark Weprin and Assemblyman Rory Lancman. None of the Democrats is publicly talking about interest in the seat.
If a special election were to be held, local party leaders — including Rep. Joe Crowley, the Queens Democratic Party chairman — would likely pick the nominee.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, speaks with reporters in the Capitol after a speech on the Senate floor that accused the CIA of searching computers set up for Congressional staff for their research of interrogation programs.