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Video: Rep. Weiner quits amid sexting scandal

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    >>> let's begin with the resignation of congressman anthony weiner . luke russert has covered the scandal from the beginning. luke, good morning.

    >> good morning, lester. ten days after admitted having inappropriate relationships with six women over the last three years, anthony weiner announced he was leaving congress as he sought to no longer be a distraction for his party. as former representative anthony weiner and his wife huma abedin left their new york apartment democrats were breathing a sigh of relief, after a three-week ordeal finally ended with what many thought was inevitable from the beginning.

    >> today i announce my resignation from congress.

    >> reporter: his wife was not by his side when he apologized again.

    >> i make this apology to my neighbors and constituents but i make it particularly to my wife huma .

    >> reporter: for weeks he desperately sought to keep his job. at first he said something about a lewd photograph over twiter.

    >> is that you?

    >> let's keep in mind what happened here. i was pranked, i was hacked, i was punked, whatever it is. someone sent out a picture. i'm an easy name to make fun of, and i think that that's what happened again.

    >> reporter: when he apologized for misleading the public but continued to insist he would not resign.

    >> but i'm not resigning, and i'm going to try very hard to go back to work a better person and a better man. i'm going to try to be a better husband, too.

    >> reporter: for days weiner remained defiant.

    >> this is ultimately something for my constituents.

    >> reporter: as more women came forward with detailed of explicit online relationships with weiner the pressure mounted from party leaders for him to step down.

    >> i came to the conclusion that, with the love of his family, the confidence of his constituents, that congressman weiner should resign from the congress.

    >> reporter: even president obama told ann --

    >> ultimately there's going to be a decision for him and his constituents. i can tell you that if it was me, i would resign.

    >> reporter: by wednesday, weiner made the decision it was time to go and informed nancy pelosi . on thursday before a chaotic crowd of journalists, constituents, and attention-seeking hecklers, he went public.

    >> i hoped to be able to continue to work that the citizens of my district elected me to do. unfortunately the distraction that i have created has made that impossible.

    >> reporter: in weiner 's district, reaction was mixed.

    >> it's really, you know, not right what he did, but then again, he's worked hard and he's done a lot. and he shouldn't have had to resign.

    >> i think it's about time. i think that we need in this district someone to focus on the issues and it's not just what he did but it's that he lied about it.

    >> i'm happy that it's done with already and we can go on to the next -- hopefully find somebody else that can replace him that will be worthwhile.

    >> reporter: as to what will happen to anthony weiner 's seat, anthony cuomo will call for a special election . no chance it will flip because it's a solidly democratic district so they should hang on to it, which republicans are willing to accept. ann?

    >> luke russert this morning. luke, thank you.

    >>> new york representative steve israel is the chairman of the democratic congressional campaign committee . congressman israel, good morning to you.

    >> good morning.

    >> you got the first call from congressman anthony weiner , how did he put it? did he explain his decision?

    >> well, i'm not going to publicly comment on the private details of a a phone conversation. i will say that the congressman was very remorseful. and one of the things we had talked about, he, in fact, articulated in his press conference yesterday, and that is this had become an enormous distraction. we talked about the fact that the week before the republicans had introduced a bill to privatize social security . the american people deserve an undistracted debate on that and that debate wasn't occurring because what was happening with congressman weiner . that was one of the reasons that brought him to his judgment to resign.

    >> you served in the new york delegation together. you attended his wedding. did you personally try to convince him to resign?

    >> look, i have had several conversations with congressman weiner . i called on him to resign very early on. one of the reasons i called on him to resign is i felt it was the right decision for him, for his family, for the congress, and for the country. you know, again, we have some serious issues confronting this country. we have a lot of work to do. and we need that undistracted debate. you know, yesterday when everybody was talking about congressman weiner 's resignation the republicans passed a bill to slash funding for nutritional programs for women, infant, and children because they say we can't afford it while saying we can afford a $100,000 tax cut for people making a million dollars. those are the debates people want us to have.

    >> you can't get past this issue before you put it to bed. the question people still want an answer from is what was his final reasoning. he's a congressman. you know, representing -- so it's important to hear what he has to say about that. i know the party has put intense pressure on him. it appears he was wait for his wife to weigh in. the question is that also needs to be asked, did the party pressure huma , his wife? did the party talk to huma and tell her that they thought she should also tell her husband to resign?

    >> not at all. my conversations with congressman weiner were directed at the fact that we weren't able to debate those issues and that it would be best for him, for his family, for the congress, and for the country for him to leave the congress. and there were no conversation -- i had no conversations, there were no conversations with huma . she was in africa traveling with the secretary of state.

    >> okay. and now, what about the -- this idea of the news conference. did the party want the congressman to have a news conference? i mean, some might wonder why would he allow himself to be put again in that humiliating position? why not just issue a statement?

    >> well, look, that was fundamentally congressman weiner 's decision. we didn't advise him on how to resign. we didn't advise him on where to resign. we didn't advise him on what kind of press conference to have. i had advised him to resign and left the rest up to him.

    >> i know you want this to be the end of it, so the question then becomes, now there's going to be a special election . is there worry about fall-out from the scandal causing the dems to lose the seat and possibly lose the house next year?

    >> the real scandal here is that republicans yesterday voted to slash programs for women, infant, and children, nutritional programs, while saying we could afford $100,000 tax cuts for people making over a million dollars. when the american people understand that, that's the scandal, then the politics will take care of itself. the important thing here is -- luke russert 's piece, he had someone who spoke eloquently. one of congressman weiner 's constituents. this is now behind us and we need to get on to important issues.

    >> thank you for joining us this morning.

NBC News and news services
updated 6/17/2011 8:03:08 AM ET 2011-06-17T12:03:08

U.S. congressman Anthony Weiner announced his resignation Thursday, done in by lewd photos he took of himself, sent to women online and then adamantly lied about after being caught.

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"I'm here today to again apologize for the personal mistakes I have made and the embarrassment I have caused," he said reading from a brief statement in New York's Brooklyn borough.

"I make this apology to my neighbors and my constituents, but I make it particularly to my wife, Huma."

First Read: Weiner to resign

Weiner's wife was absent as he announced his decision, as she was 10 days ago when he admitted having sent inappropriate messages and photos to several women online.

"I had hoped to be able to continue the work that the citizens of my district elected me to do, to fight for the middle class and those struggling to make it," said Weiner. "But unfortunately the distraction that I have created has made that impossible."

He said he would resign "so my colleagues can get back to work, my neighbors can choose a new representative and, most importantly, that my wife and I can continue to heal from the damage I have caused."

During the announcement, Benjy Bronk, a performer on the Howard Stern show, interrupted Weiner, shouting profanities. He was escorted out the room by police.

In part, that echoed what party leaders have said for days as they pressured him to resign so Democrats could resume positioning themselves for the 2012 election campaign without constant criticism from Republicans on moral grounds.

Weiner, 46, took a leave of absence and had been at a treatment facility at an undisclosed location since last weekend. Until Thursday's press conference, he had not been seen in public since telling reporters last Saturday he intended to return to work.

Video: Watch Weiner's full resignation announcement (on this page)

Weiner's decision to give up his House seat marks the end of a scandal that resulted from the brash New Yorker's use of social media such as Twitter and Facebook.

He at first denied having sent any inappropriate photos, then recanted in a remarkable news conference 10 days ago at which he admitted having exchanged inappropriate messages with several women.

His confession triggered a tabloid-style frenzy in print and online that only grew more pronounced a few days later when an X-rated photo of the lawmaker surfaced on a website.

After initially calling for a House ethics committee investigation, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi dramatically ramped up the pressure on Saturday when she joined other party leaders in calling on Weiner to step down.

Within hours, Weiner disclosed his plans to enter treatment, and Pelosi's aides made it known that did not negate her demand for a resignation.

Several officials have said in recent days that Weiner was reluctant to make any decision about his career without speaking with his wife, Huma Abedin, a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who had been overseas since shortly after the scandal broke. The trip ended Tuesday night.

Abedin is pregnant with the couple's first child.

Slideshow: Sex scandals and elected officials (on this page)

The Democrat's decision to leave Congress marks at least an ignominious pause if not an end in a once-promising career. Weiner ran for New York mayor in 2005, and had talked of seeking the office again.

His outspoken, in-your-face style cheered liberal supporters and angered conservatives. He even irritated some party leaders in 2009 when he led the charge for a government-run health care system long after the White House had made it clear that President Barack Obama was opposed.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to call a special election to fill the seat.

Weiner's problems began on May 28 when BigGovernment.com, a website run by conservative commentator Andrew Breitbart, posted a lewd photograph of an underwear-clad crotch and said it had been sent from Weiner's Twitter account to a Seattle woman.

Initially, Weiner lied, saying his account had been hacked. But he pointedly did not report the incident to law enforcement — a step that could have led the way to charges of wrongdoing far more serious than mere sexting.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Photos: Sex scandals and elected officials

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  1. David Wu

    Oregon Democratic Congressman David Wu speaks after a luncheon in Hillsboro, Ore, March, 7, 2011. Wu announced his resignation on July 24, 2011, amid political fallout from an 18-year-old woman's allegations she had an unwanted sexual encounter with him. The seven-term congressman was the subject of news stories of unusual behavior earlier in the year and several of his staff had resigned. (Don Ryan / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Anthony Weiner

    Rep. Anthony Weiner speaks during a press conference at a hotel in New York on June 6, 2011, where he admitted that he had communicated with women online before and after his marriage and sent them explicit photos. (Andrew Gombert / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Arnold Schwarzenegger

    Following the announcement of the couple's separation in 2011, Schwarzenegger said in a statement to the Los Angeles Times that he fathered a child with a member of his household staff. In the photo, California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and his wife Maria Shriver greet supporters before he is sworn in for second term on January 5, 2007 in Sacramento, Calif. (Justin Sullivan / Getty Images file) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Chris Lee

    Left: House Speaker John Boehner, left, shakes hands with Rep. Chris Lee, alongside members of Lee's family during a mock swearing-in ceremony on Capitol Hill on Jan. 5, 2011. His wife, Michele, holds the bible and his son Johnathan, leans against his dad. Lee abruptly resigned his seat on Feb. 9, after a gossip web site, Gawker, reported that Lee had sent a shirtless photo of himself to a woman he met on Craigslist (right). Gawker.com printed a series of e-mails which the lawmaker apparently had exchanged with the woman, who asked not to be identified. (AP, Gawker) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Mark Sanford

    After going AWOL for seven days, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford admitted on June 24, 2009 that he'd secretly flown to Argentina to visit a woman with whom he'd been having an affair. The married politician, who’s also a father of four, said he’d known the woman for eight years. "What I did was wrong. Period," he said. (Davis Turner / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. John Ensign

    On June 16, 2009, Sen. John Ensign announced that he had engaged in an extramarital affair with a campaign staffer who was then employed as one of his top aides. The senator said he disclosed the relationship after an attorney for the woman’s husband made "exorbitant demands for cash and other financial benefits." (Isaac Brekken / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. John Edwards

    In this image taken from video and released by ABC News, Bob Woodruff interviews John Edwards Friday, Aug. 8, 2008 in Chapel Hill, N.C. The former North Carolina senator, who was the Democratic vice presidential nominee in 2004, confessed to ABC News that he had lied repeatedly about the affair with 42-year-old Rielle Hunter.

    At the time, he denied fathering a baby with Hunter, but on Jan. 21, 2009, he released a statement exclusively to NBC News admitting that was was indeed the father of Francis Quinn Hunter. (ABC News via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Eliot Spitzer

    New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, a Democrat, addresses reporters with his wife, Silda Wall Spitzer, at his office in New York, apologizing for a "private matter" but making no reference to a March 10, 2008, New York Times report linking him to a prostitution ring. Spitzer resigned later that week. (Shannon Stapleton / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Larry Craig

    Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct after being arrested in June 2007 in a Minneapolis airport restroom. The undercover officer who arrested him said Craig tapped his feet and swiped his hand under a stall divider in a way that signaled he wanted sex. Craig appealed, arguing that the law is invalid. He insisted that his actions were misconstrued and that he is not gay. He said he pleaded guilty in hopes of resolving the matter quietly (Troy Maben / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. David Vitter

    Sen. David Vitter, R-La., acknowledged in July 2007 that his Washington phone number was among those called several years before by an escort service. The admission came after Hustler magazine told the senator that his telephone number was linked to the service. (J. Scott Applewhite / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Antonio Villaraigosa

    Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a Democrat, walks with Mirthala Salinas, then a reporter for Telemundo 52, on the north steps of the state Capitol in Sacramento in June 2006. Villaraigosa later acknowledged he was involved in a romantic relationship with Salinas. (Robert Durell / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Mark Foley

    Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla., abruptly resigned in September 2006 after reports that he sent sexual messages to teenage male congressional pages. The Foley scandal helped Democrats gain control of the House of Representatives in the November 2006 elections. (Lawrence Jackson / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. James McGreevey

    Dina Matos McGreevey stands next to her husband, Gov. James McGreevey, a Democrat, as he announces his resignation during a 2004 news conference in Trenton, N.J. McGreevey admitted he is homosexual and had an extramarital affair with another man, Golan Cipel, pictured right. McGreevey later wrote a book, "The Confession," about his life; Dina Matos McGreevey also later wrote a book, "Silent Partner," about their marriage. (AP photos) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Jack Ryan

    Jack Ryan, a Republican, dropped out of the 2004 Senate race in Illinois when his wife, TV actress Jeri Lynn Ryan, filed divorce papers that alleged he had taken her to "bizarre clubs" and asked her to have sex in front of other people. Ryan denied that but acknowledged they went to one avant-garde club in Paris where they both felt creepy. Ryan's Democratic opponent, Barack Obama, easily won the Illinois seat. (Stephen J. Carrera / ASSOCIATED PRESS) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Bob Livingston

    Rep. Bob Livingston, R-La., was on the verge of becoming House speaker in 1998 when he acknowledged straying in his marriage. He resigned from Congress a couple of months later. (Khue Bui / AP file) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Bill Clinton

    President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, gave evasive and misleading testimony under oath and publicly denied having sexual relations with former intern Monica Lewinsky, only to be forced into a humiliating reversal. He was impeached by the House and then acquitted in a 1999 Senate trial. (APTV file) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Bob Packwood

    Sen. Bob Packwood, R-Ore., resigned in 1995 amid allegations he made unwanted sexual advances to 17 female employees and colleagues, solicited jobs from lobbyists for his former wife, and altered his personal diaries to obstruct an ethics investigation. (Nathaniel Harari / Congressional Quarterly/Getty Im) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Barney Frank

    Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., was reprimanded by the House in 1989 for using his influence on behalf of male prostitute Stephen Gobie. Frank admitted paying Gobie for sex, hiring him with his own money as an aide and writing a letter on his behalf. Frank faced constituents at a meeting until they ran out of questions, acknowledging, "I did not handle the pressures of having a public life, of being a closeted gay man, nearly as well as I should have." He has won re-election ever since. (Terry Ashe / Time Life Pictures - Getty Image) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Gary Hart

    Sen. Gary Hart, D-Colo., was a front-runner for the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination when The Miami Herald reported he'd spent a night and a day with a young woman while his wife was away. Hart, who had challenged the press to check on rumors of philandering, initially denounced the report. But his liaison with Donna Rice, who had been photographed sitting on his lap near a yacht named "Monkey Business," sank his campaign. (Steve Liss / Time Life Pictures via Getty Ima) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Dan Crane

    Rep. Dan Crane, R-Ill., left, cries as he talks to reporters in 1983. Crane said he was sorry he hurt his family by having an affair with a 17-year-old congressional page. Rep. Gerry Studds, D-Mass., right, speaks to reporters on the steps of the Capitol. The House ethics committee cited Studds and Crane for misconduct for sexual activity with teen pages. (AP file photos) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Wilbur D. Mills

    Rep. Wilbur D. Mills, D-Ark., stands with Fanne Foxe, an exotic dancer. Mills sparked controversy in 1974 when police in Washington stopped his car for not having its headlights on. Although Mills was not driving, he was drunk, and Foxe jumped out of the car and into the Tidal Basin near the Jefferson Memorial. The episode caused Mills' downfall. (AP file) Back to slideshow navigation
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