Weiner considers resignation, reports say

Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., is surrounded by reporters as he arrives at his house in Queens, New York, June 9, 2011. Weiner admitted that he had Tweeted sexually charged messages and photos to at least six women and lied about it. AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

Reports out of New York Monday indicated that Congressman Anthony Weiner is now at least exploring the possibility of stepping down - this after that new batch of photos came out over the weekend and Democratic leaders said publicly for the first time that he should go.

The new photos, released by the website TMZ.com, show the congressman in various stages of undress at a Capitol Hill gym reserved only for House Members.

More Weiner pix - taken at House Members Gym

The New York Daily News is reporting that a source close to Weiner said the congressman is reconsidering his stance, after the incessant media coverage and the disclosure of even more illicit photos. Congressional staffers say Weiner may not make a decision until after his wife, Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, returns Wednesday from a trip to Africa.

And Politico.com quotes a statement from Weiner's office saying the Congressman "takes the views of his colleagues very seriously," and is looking at his leave of absence as a time to "get healthy and make the best decision possible for himself, his family and his constituents."

Over the weekend the married New York congressman said he was taking a short leave of absence from Congress to "get evaluated and map out a course of treatment to make himself well" at an unidentified facility.

The New York Post reports a source says Weiner is cognizant that "buying time" by going to rehab may not be enough to save his job, and that resignation could be his only option.

Weiner requests temporary leave of absence

If Weiner had hoped his decision would quell the calls for him to quit - it didn't, reports CBS News congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes.

"We have got to get this behind us because it's a distraction, and so, yes, he should resign," said Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., on CBS' "Face the Nation." "I don't take pleasure in saying that, because we have got important work to do, and this is just a ridiculous distraction."

Even more problematic for the embattled congressman, Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives finally broke their silence, urging him to resign in a series of coordinated statements that called his actions "sordid' and "indefensible."

"This is bizarre, unacceptable behavior," said House minority whip Steny Hoyer. He told "Face the Nation" host Bob Schieffer that Weiner - who has refused to go - should reconsider.

"It seems to me extraordinarily difficult that he can proceed to represent his constituents in an effective way given the circumstances this bizarre behavior has led to," Hoyer said.

Ryan, Hoyer call for Weiner's resignation
Dems shunning Weiner, strategist says
Weiner clings to office after new pic, baby news

It may be funny for Republicans - Weiner was mocked by House Speaker John Boehner during a commencement address at Ohio University this weekend - but Democrats feel that this scandal is completely overshadowing their agenda, and that's why - when they're coming back into session after a week-long break - they're asking Weiner to go, now.

Democratic leaders waited to come out publicly against Weiner but behind the scenes they were quietly urging him to leave, Cordes reports.

"They were hoping he would do it voluntarily," she said, as is typical of members of Congress embroiled in scandal who can't stand the heat. "Often they do it very quickly after just a day or two," Cordes said, "but he was standing firm. Then he announced he was going to seek treatment, he may have thought that would push them off a bit. It didn't."

"When it first happened, people in his own party were hoping it would go away - that's what always happens in Washington," said CBS News chief Washington correspondent and host of "Face the Nation" Bob Schieffer. Appearing on "The Early Show" Monday, Schieffer said it may take time for Congress to work up an ethics probe and force him out, so the easiest road for everyone is for Weiner to go voluntarily.

"They have got to get this over with," Schieffer told "Early Show" anchor Erica Hill. "I mean, this is beyond just a sex scandal here. This is an electronic version of a flasher. These latest pictures are disgusting and despicable. Nobody wants to go into the next election saying they [have] somehow or other protected someone like this. Is he sick? Doctors will decide that, but Democrats need to get him on the road and out of there."

CBS News political correspondent Jan Crawford commented on remarks by GOP Rep. Paul Ryan yesterday that Weiner's sexting controversy is reflecting on the entire institution of Congress, not just one party.

"I mean, Boehner making jokes about this? This is not funny. I don't think the American people find this funny," Crawford said on "The Early Show." "Congress' approval ratings at the lowest ever. Listen to what we're talking about here and what this guy has admitted doing. Only in Washington would this kind of thing play out like it has.

"If Anthony Weiner worked for a private employer, like every other American in this country, he would have been fired immediately or suspended while they did some kind of internal investigation into what was happening," Crawford said. "He sent photographs to women he didn't know; he took pictures of himself in the workplace. And now it's come out he's been emailing privately with a high school girl that he met on a field trip.

"If he were working like all the rest of us, he would have been out the door two weeks ago," Crawford said. But in Washington, "there is no liability."

  • David Morgan

    David Morgan is a senior editor at CBSNews.com and cbssundaymorning.com.

Comments

CBSN Live

pop-out
Live Video

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.