After weeks of political pressure, the scandal-embroiled New York Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner stepped down from his position as a U.S. Congressman. At a press conference Thursday afternoon, Weiner officially ended his tenure in Congress.
“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 those struggling to make it,” Weiner said. “Unfortunately, the distraction that I have created has made that impossible. So, today I am announcing my resignation from Congress.”
Before that, Weiner issued apologies to wife and constituents.
“I apologize for the personal mistakes I have made and the embarrassment I have caused,” Weiner said. “I make this apology to my neighbors and my constituents, but I make it particularly to my wife Huma.”
His wife, Huma Adedin, a top Hillary Clinton adviser, was not with him at the presser.
The #Weinergate presser went awry several times. At one point, for example, a person in attendance shouted, “Is it more than seven inches?” When he announced he was finally resigning, there was a cheer from those in attendance. Weiner refused to take questions at the press conference.
In late May, the New York Democrat and Sen. Chuck Schumer’s protégé, became entangled in the “sexting” scandal, in which he sent sexually-suggestive photographs, including a picture of his erect penis, to women via Facebook and Twitter. The scandal started after conservative publisher Andrew Breitbart’s Big Government website found out Weiner publicly tweeted a photo of his erect penis underneath gray boxer-briefs. The tweet was directed at 21-year-old Seattle-area college student Gennette Cordova.
Weiner originally claimed his Facebook account was hacked, then claimed his Twitter and Facebook accounts were “hacked.” After that storyline wasn’t working, he shifted memes and began calling the instance a “prank.” Weiner’s mentor, Schumer, defended him blindly in the beginning, and wouldn’t call for an investigation.
Weiner’s press strategy was to ignore the story and hope it went away. But, after Weiner called a CNN producer a “jackass” and tried to spin his way out of the scandal, the press wouldn’t let him go. His strategy didn’t work.
From there, the story started unraveling. Weiner communicated privately with porn star and stripper Miss Ginger Lee and more photos and women emerged with #Weinergate stories of their own. Breitbart published more photos Weiner sent to women, and a middle-aged Nevada woman claimed she and Weiner had phone sex on Weiner’s official office line.
Then, after 11 days of hopelessly hoping the scandal would go away, Weiner finally owned up to several of the stories. He held a press conference, at which he admitted he sent the photo to Cordova and intended it to be a private message, or “Direct Message” in Twitter-speak. He admitted to lewd communications with several other women at the press conference as well.
But, Weiner denied any House Ethics violations, including using publicly-provided resources to partake in his lewd behavior. That wasn’t enough for several House Democratic leaders, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who first called for an ethics investigation, then for Weiner to resign.
Weiner’s own political party abandoned him as he fell deeper and deeper into scandal, and the pressure was finally enough for the New York Democrat to give up elected office.