Weiner asks for leave from House as pressure to resign grows

Rep. Anthony Weiner, New York Democrat, is questioned by the media near his home in the Queens borough, Saturday, June 11, 2011. The 46-year-old congressman acknowledged Friday that he had online contact with a 17-year-old girl from Delaware but said there was nothing inappropriate. (AP Photo/David Karp)Rep. Anthony Weiner, New York Democrat, is questioned by the media near his home in the Queens borough, Saturday, June 11, 2011. The 46-year-old congressman acknowledged Friday that he had online contact with a 17-year-old girl from Delaware but said there was nothing inappropriate. (AP Photo/David Karp)
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Amid reports of an expanding official investigation into his online habits, top House Democrats on Saturday called on Rep. Anthony Weiner — but he reportedly said he will instead take a leave of absence and seek treatment.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz both called on Mr. Weiner to step down, saying he is hurting the chances for serious debate in Washington.

“This sordid affair has become an unacceptable distraction for Representative Weiner, his family, his constituents and the House,” Ms. Wasserman Schultz said. “For the good of all, he should step aside and address those things that should be most important — his and his family’s well-being.”

Their calls were echoed by other high-ranking House Democrats on Saturday, and they join a significant group of members of Congress who had earlier issued similar pleas for him to resign.

The congressman has admitted to sending lewd photos and exchanging sexually charged messages on the Internet with about six women, and acknowledged that he initially lied about it in public to cover his tracks. He went so far as to say his online account had been hacked — something he now says was untrue.

The House has been on a weeklong vacation, and Mr. Weiner, at home in New York, told reporters earlier he had no intention of resigning.

Saturday afternoon, his spokeswoman told The New York Times that he will seek “professional help” and will ask for a leave of absence.

Congressman Weiner departed this morning to seek professional treatment to focus on becoming a better husband and healthier person,” said the spokeswoman, Risa Heller. “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.”

But his colleagues’ pressure may make it difficult for him to stay.

Already, Mrs. Pelosi has called for a House ethics committee investigation into his behavior, and police are now reportedly looking into contacts with a 17-year-old girl in Delaware — though Mr. Weiner has denied that communication was inappropriate.

The 46-year-old Mr. Weiner, who has been married less than a year, has admitted to sending lewd photos of himself and conducting sexually charged online chats with about a half-dozen women.

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