Anthony Weiner resigned from Congress on Thursday, saying that the distraction caused by his online sexting scandal had made it impossible for him to continue to serve.
“I am announcing my resignation from Congress so my colleagues can get back to work, my neighbors can choose a new representative and more importantly that my wife and I can continue to heal from the damage that I have caused,” he said during an afternoon press conference at a Brooklyn senior center where he launched his first run for New York City Council nearly two decades ago.
Weiner did not take questions from the reporters on hand, and at one point he was nearly drowned out by a heckler in the room, who was reportedly Howard Stern Show contributer Benjy Bronk. (More on Bronk's outburst here.)
Weiner's pregnant wife, longtime Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, was not on hand for the press conference.
The announcement caps off three weeks of political controversy and nearly non-stop media coverage of his online interaction with a number of women who were not his wife, and brings an early end to the congressional career of a man who had one time been a frontrunner to become the next mayor of New York City.
News of his impending resignation first broke earlier in the day, hours before Nancy Pelosi and other House Democrats were preparing to strip him of his committee assignments, a move that would have greatly diminished his standing in Congress and likely undermined his chances of reelection.
Earlier this week, President Obama joined a growing chorus of lawmakers suggesting Weiner had become too much of a distraction to continue to effectively serve in Congress. “I can tell you that if it was me, I would resign,” the president said in an interview with NBC News.
Until Thursday, Weiner had appeared determined to try to weather the political storm in hopes of remaining in Congress. But the hits kept coming, even after he held a lengthy mea culpa press conference on June 6, where he admitted to a series of intimate online relationships with women who were not his wife. Last week an X-rated photo apparently of Weiner was published online, and additional embarrassing emails and texts that Weiner had sent to women continued to surface. Over the weekend, Weiner's office said that he would seek "professional treatment."
His decision to resign comes nearly three weeks after he sent a graphic photo of himself over Twitter that went public, a move that he had originally maintained was the result of hackers.
Reporters and many congressional observers originally appeared ready to take the New York congressman at his word, but questions began to swirl after Weiner gave a series of awkward press conferences and interviews, including one where he said he could not say with "certitude" that the underwear-clad crotch in the photo was not his.
The pressure continued to mount as additional intimate photos of Weiner began to surface, many of which were obtained and published by conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart.
After Breitbart posted a series of shirtless photos of Weiner to his Big Government website on June 6 – and suggested that he had the X-rated photo – the New York congressman called a press conference to admit to sending the original Twitter photo and to acknowledge his other online relationships. At the time, Weiner said that he had no plans to resign, saying that he had broken no laws or congressional rules.