Weiner Wobbles: But He Doesn't Fall Down...Yet
June 12th, 2011
Dismissing calls by Democratic leaders for him to resign over a sexting scandal, Rep. Anthony Weiner says he's taking a leave of absence and checking himself in for treatment instead.
But as House lawmakers return to Washington to work this week, they are being inundated not only with questions about the New York congressman's online antics, but with more pictures of the congressman in various states of disrobe.
On Sunday, TMZ released 11 new pictures of the congressman, taken from what appears to be the House gym, a background which sets off more questions about the congressman's use of congressional facilities for less than official purposes. The pictures were taken by Weiner using the camera on his phone and a mirror.
Weiner's announcement Saturday that he would request a leave from Congress came shortly after several Democratic Party leaders, including Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, demanded he quit.
"This sordid affair has become an unacceptable distraction for Representative Weiner, his family, his constituents and the House," Schultz said.
Weiner "has the love of his family, the confidence of his constituents and the recognition that he needs help. I urge Congressman Weiner to seek that help without the pressures of being a member of Congress," said The House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California.
Aides said later that Pelosi had been aware of Weiner's plan to enter treatment when she issued her statement.
A quiet departure would enable Democrats to get back on message and not be disrupted by an embarrassment that only months ago led to the resignation of a Republican congressman whose seat turned over to Democrats in a special election last month.
Weiner's spokeswoman, Risa Heller, said in a statement that the congressman departed Saturday morning "to seek professional treatment to focus on becoming a better husband and healthier person. 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."
The statement did not say where or what type of treatment he was seeking. In order to take a leave of absence, a usually routine matter, the request must be sent to the House floor. This is usually a perfunctory, moot exercise, with no one objecting, but it is conceivable that his leave could face objection and not be granted. If so, a vote could ensue on the merits or demerits of granting leave, putting Congress in uncharted territory.
Weiner's decision to seek treatment followed his acknowledgement that he had exchanged online messages with a 17-year-old girl in Delaware, first revealed by FoxNews.com. Weiner said nothing improper had passed between the two of them, and state police have closed the investigation.
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Fox News' Chad Pergram contributed to this report.