Updated: 7:28 p.m.
Top Democratic leaders issued a coordinated call for Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) to resign on Saturday, as the embattled Congressman entered treatment and asked for a leave of absence from the House.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel (N.Y.) and Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.) called on Weiner to step down in press releases issued almost simultaneously Saturday afternoon.
According to a Democratic official, Weiner informed party leaders he would seek treatment, which precipitated the decision to publicly call for his resignation.
A statement from Weiner spokeswoman Risa Heller made no mention of resignation. She said he “takes the views of his colleagues very seriously and has determined that he needs this time to get healthy and make the best decision” for everyone.
“Congressman Weiner departed this morning to seek professional treatment to focus on becoming a better husband and healthier person,” Heller said. “In light of that, he will request a short leave of absence from the House of Representatives so that he can get evaluated and map out a course of treatment to make himself well.”
But Democratic leaders sought to make clear with their unified call that anything less than Weiner’s resignation would not be acceptable.
“Weiner has the love of his family, the confidence of his constituents and the recognition that he needs help,” Pelosi said in her statement. “I urge Congressman Weiner to seek that help without the pressures of being a Member of Congress.”
“Anthony’s inappropriate behavior has become an insurmountable distraction to the House and our work for the American people,” Israel said. “With a heavy heart, I call on Anthony to resign.”
Former chairman of the DCCC, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.) put it this way: “Repeated violation of the public trust is unacceptable.”
But Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn (S.C.) was unwilling to call for Weiner to step down. “I stand by my comments from last week that the full Caucus should address this issue when we meet next week,” he said in a statement late Saturday afternoon.
Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.) Saturday lamented his longtime friend’s situation, but stopped well short of calling for him Weiner to resign.
“I am heartbroken. For those of us who are longtime friends of Anthony Weiner his wrongful behavior is distressing and saddening. It’s clear he needs professional help and I am glad he is seeking it,” Schumer said in a statement.
Schumer, the dean of the New York Congressional delegation, has been careful to stay above the fray in the scandal, which has engulfed his former aide.
Weiner admitted in a weepy press conference on Monday to sending lewd photos of himself over the internet to at least six women, after earlier denying any impropriety and claiming his Twitter account had been hacked.
The calls for Weiner’s resignation came after police in Delaware visited a 17-year-old girl on Friday to ask about communication she had with Weiner via Twitter, FOX News reported. A spokesman for Weiner said the communications Weiner had with the girl “were neither explicit nor indecent.”
At the press conference on Monday, Weiner was asked about the age of the women he interacted with over the internet. “I don’t know the exact ages of the women,” he said. “But they were all adults — at least to the best of my knowledge they were all adults.”
Pressed how he could know that there were all adults, he said, “All I know is what they publish about themselves in social media. Someone could theoretically have been fibbing about it, and that’s a risk.”
Despite growing pressure for Weiner to resign, he has so far insisted he will remain in office.
“I am deeply regretting what I have done, and I am not resigning,” he said at the Monday press conference.
In a stakeout on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) refused to defend the Congressman. “I know Congressman Weiner. I wish there was some way I can defend him, but I can’t,” he said.