US Representative Anthony Weiner resigns over sexual conduct

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Friday, June 17, 2011

Anthony Weiner
Image: Thomas Good.
Hillary Clinton, followed by Weiner's wife, Huma Abedin
Image: Julie Vazquez.

Anthony Weiner announced his resignation yesterday afternoon as a Democratic representative from New York to the U.S. House of Representatives, a position he has filled for twelve years. He has been under pressure from politicians within his own party after a sex scandal engulfed his life and that of the Democratic party.

Weiner told reporters it was "impossible" to continue in his role after the events of the last few weeks, including revelations that he was involved in sexual relationships with a number of young women over the internet, including sending lewd photos of himself, and then lying about his actions to reporters.

He announced his resignation at a press conference in a Brooklyn senior center where 20 years ago he began his political career and apologized for his "personal mistakes". His wife, Huma Abedin, did not accompany him, but Weiner apologized to her in his speech, saying that he hopes "most importantly, that my wife and I can continue to heal from the damage that I've caused." He took no questions from reporters.

On June 6, Weiner had admitted to corresponding with women he met on the internet, including exchanging lewd photos. But on June 11 he declared in an emotional interview he would not resign. Under pressure from Democrats, Weiner requested a two-week leave of absence from his position in order to obtain treatment to become "a better husband and healthier person."

However, Democratic politicians became increasingly anxious to put the growing scandal behind them, as it distracted members from more important issues such as problems with Medicare and the need for more jobs. As the scandal gained momentum, a variety of politicians, including Nancy Pelosi, the House Minority Leader, called on him to resign. President Barack Obama said he would resign if he were in Weiner's place in an interview with ABC News.

"Weiner exercised poor judgment in his actions and poor judgment in his reaction to the revelations," Pelosi said in a statement after Weiner announced his resignation. "Today, he made the right judgment in resigning."

The scandal came to light May 27 after Weiner accidentally sent a photograph of his crotch on his public stream on the social networking website Twitter, and then tried to cover it up by blaming hackers for posting the picture, denying all responsibility.

Weiner later admitted sending online messages to other women, including to a 17-year-old high school student in Delaware, though a police investigation uncovered nothing illegal. On Wednesday, a former porn actress revealed that she had engaged in an online relationship with Weiner and that Weiner had asked her to lie about the nature of their contact.

More photos have continued to emerge, including one showing his nude genitals, and others showing him half naked. On Wednesday, the National Enquirer published images of Weiner cross-dressing while he was a college student at the State University of New York at Plattsburgh. In one photo, he is seen wearing a bra and pantyhose, while in another he is oiled and wearing swimming trunks.

Cquote1.svg 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. Cquote2.svg

—Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader

Colleagues said Weiner wanted to wait for the return home of his wife, Abedin, before making a final career decision. He has been married for almost a year to Abedin, who is pregnant with the couple's first child. She is a top aide to Hillary Clinton, the Secretary of State, and the couple's wedding was presided over by former President Bill Clinton. She returned home to Washington, D.C. on Wednesday morning after having traveled with Clinton in the Middle East and Africa since June 8.

Weiner's district covers parts of Brooklyn and Queens, boroughs of New York City. He ran an unsuccessful campaign for mayor of New York City in 2005, and he was considered a potential candidate for future races. Known to be an outspoken supporter of liberal causes, he has irked conservatives and Democratic leaders. In 2009, he pushed for government-run health care, even though Obama had opposed the idea.


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