Published June 11, 2011 | FoxNews.com
Rep. Anthony Weiner is requesting a short leave of absence from his congressional job to seek professional treatment as Democratic leaders in the House call for him to step down after he admitted he exchanged online messages with a Delaware teenager.
These were just the latest developments in a Twitter-fueled sex scandal that has dominated the news for days and made congressional Democrats increasingly uneasy as they keep confronting more questions about Weiner’s behavior and future with every new detail that emerges. But Weiner made it clear that he has no intention of resigning yet.
“Congressman Weiner departed this morning to seek professional treatment to focus on becoming a better husband and healthier person,” Weiner spokeswoman Risa Heller said in a statement. “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.
“Congressman Weiner takes the views of his colleagues very seriously and had determined that he needs this time to get healthy and make the best decision possible for himself, his family and his constituents,” Heller said.
A senior Democratic National Committee official told Fox News that Weiner’s refusal to resign is “unacceptable.”
“His constituents and his colleagues need finality and his district needs representation,” the official said. “The die is cast — he needs to move on.”
In a series of statements, Democratic leaders said the best decision for Weiner was to step down.
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California said Weiner has the “recognition that he needs help.”
“I urge Congressman Weiner to seek that help without the pressures of being a Member of Congress,” she said in a statement.
National party chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said Weiner’s behavior is “indefensible” and his role in Congress is “untenable.”
The Florida congresswoman said “this sordid affair has become an unacceptable distraction” for everyone.
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel said Weiner’s “inappropriate behavior has become an insurmountable distraction to the House and our work for the American people.”
“With a heavy heart, I call on Anthony to resign,” he said.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, said Weiner’s “repeated violation of the public trust is unacceptable.”
“He can best advance the issues he fought for by resigning immediately,” he said.
Democratic leaders, who have been talking to Weiner all week, kicked off the coordinated effort Saturday once Weiner decided to seek treatment, a senior House Democratic aide told Fox News.
His decision to seek treatment taken together with the pressure of Sunday show appearances and the House reconvening Monday added up to the ultimate decision for the leaders to call for his resignation Saturday, the aide said.
On Thursday, leaders set an internal deadline for Weiner to resign no later than Saturday morning before they asked him to go. A senior Democratic source told Fox News that Democrats are not willing to tolerate a third week of news about Weiner’s behavior because it distracts them from their agenda and is a disgrace to the House.
The demands from the Democratic Party hierarchy came one day after Weiner acknowledged that he had exchanged online messages with a Delaware teenager. He said the exchanges involved nothing inappropriate.
His party’s leadership had refrained from demanding a resignation for days after Weiner admitted sending lewd photos and messages and at least one X-rated picture to a handful of women around the country over the past three years and then lying about it.
Weiner is married to Huma Abedin, a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Abedin is pregnant with the couple’s first child. She is traveling with Clinton in Africa until the middle of next week.
A recent poll of registered voters in Weiner’s New York City district found that 56 percent said he should stay in office while 33 percent said he should leave.
Pelosi has asked the House Ethics Committee to investigate whether Weiner used any government resources. He has said he does not believe he did.
Before Saturday’s developments, at least nine House members and three senators said Weiner should resign.
He has repeatedly said he would not.
Weiner told reporters earlier Saturday in his neighbor that “I have to redeem myself and I am going to try to get back to work,” Weiner said.
Weiner said his conduct involved “personal failings” and that he would try not to let them get in the way of his “professional work.”
He said his wife “is doing well” and that she “is a remarkable woman who is working very hard.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.