Obama call last straw as Weiner steps down
Published 17/06/2011 | 05:00
The New York Democratic congressman embroiled in a scandal about his lewd online conduct with several women resigned yesterday after party leaders and US President Barack Obama called for him to go.
Anthony Weiner (46) was, until a fortnight ago, one of the favourites to be the next mayor of New York, but his political career now lies in ruins.
Although he attempted to cling on after 14 years in office, the furore over photos and explicit messages sent to numerous women via Twitter and Facebook refused to die down and was becoming a major distraction for party leaders.
Speaking at a centre for the elderly in Brooklyn, Mr Weiner said: "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 help the struggling to make it.
"Unfortunately the distraction that I have caused has made that impossible. And so today I am announcing my resignation from Congress."
The announcement was met with a chorus of boos and cries of "No!" from elderly voters.
"I am here today to again apologise for the personal mistakes I made and the embarrassment I have caused," said Mr Weiner. "I make this apology to my neighbours and my constituents, but I make it particularly to my wife Huma."
Mr Weiner paid tribute to "my mother and father, for the values they gave me". Further suggestive pictures taken and transmitted by Mr Weiner of himself in a congressional changing room emerged over the weekend.
Police also interviewed a 17-year-old girl with whom he had communicated online, though the congressman insisted there was nothing untoward in his relationship with her.
On Wednesday, Ginger Lee, a former porn actress, claimed that Mr Weiner told her to lie to the media when the scandal first broke and she was identified as a potential recipient of his Twitter messages. Mr Weiner had not been seen in public since announcing late last week that he was seeking therapy.
He had delayed a decision on his future until his wife, Huma Abedin, who is a personal aide to Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, returned from an overseas trip.
In a tearful press conference 10 days ago, Mr Weiner apologised to his wife, who is also three months pregnant, as he admitted sending a picture of his crotch to a 21-year-old student in Seattle.
He stressed that he had had no physical contact with any of the women nor broken any laws. But the intervention of Mr Obama was perhaps the final straw. "I can tell you that if it was me, I would resign," he said on Monday. (© Daily Telegraph, London)