Embattled Congressman Anthony Weiner Resigns Over Sexting Scandal Amid Cheers And Jeers
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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It’s finally over.
Congressman Anthony Weiner announced his resignation at a news conference in Brooklyn on Thursday afternoon. He walked into the room with a look of grim determination and faced the pop of flash bulbs, half-hearted cheers and, later, an interruption by a heckler.
First came the congressman’s apology for subjecting his constituents, the nation and his wife, Huma Abedin, to the lewd photos he admittedly sent to at least six women before and after his marriage. Abedin was not with him for the announcement.
“I am here today to again apologize for the personal mistakes I have made and the embarrassment I have caused. I make this apology to my neighbors and my constituents, but I make it particularly to my wife, Huma. 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, unfortunately the distraction that I have created has made that impossible.
LISTEN: Anthony Weiner’s Full Resignation Speech
“So today I am announcing my resignation from Congress. So my colleagues can get back to work, my neighbors can choose a representative, and most importantly, that my wife and I can continue to heal from the damage I have caused. I have never forgotten my neighbors because they represent the same middle class story as mine…The middle class story of New York is my story and I’m very proud of that.”
During the news conference, Benjy Bronk, a writer and performer from the “Howard Stern” show, shouted “bye bye, pervert” as Weiner continued his speech. Bronk also yelled an assortment of other distasteful comments in the middle of Weiner’s statement.
Weiner called House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Steve Israel of New York Wednesday evening to let them know about his plan to quit, conversations that were reportedly emotional and apologetic.
WATCH: Anthony Weiner’s Resignation News Conference
The decision came just a day after Abedin returned from a trip overseas with her boss, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
It also followed a seemingly endless drip-drip-drip of new, tawdry details of Weiner’s sexting scandal. On Wednesday, a former porn star held a news conference saying she would gladly appear before any House ethics investigatory committee to talk about the texts she exchanged with Weiner.
Weiner’s departure has prompted a special election to fill the vacated seat, if it isn’t eliminated as a result of redistricting.
Governor Andrew Cuomo will need to call a special election 70 to 80 days after the vacancy is officially recognized. Then, Brooklyn and Queens Democratic and Republican organizations would get together to select a candidate to run for the position.
Among the Democrats said to want the job include former NYC Council members Eric Gioia and Melinda Katz and current councilman Mark Weprin. Councilman Eric Ulrich is considered a possible GOP contender.
It’s also not clear what Weiner will do next to earn a living: he’s spent his entire adult life working in politics.
Politics wasn’t in Weiner’s blood. He grew up in Park Slope as the son of middle class Jewish parents — his father a lawyer and mother a public school teacher.
Weiner attended Brooklyn Technical High School and then went on to graduate from SUNY Plattsburgh in 1985. He went to work for then-congressman Charles Schumer. Weiner reportedly told Schumer, “I’m going to take your job someday.”
After working for Schumer for six years, he was elected to the City Council. In 1998, he went on to Congress. In 2005, he set his sights on becoming New York City mayor but fell short.
Weiner, a polarizing figure in Congress due to his fiercely liberal political views and brash, outspoken style — who was once named one of the 50 most influential Jewish Americans, found himself without support on Capitol Hill after the sexting scandal broke.
Earlier Thursday, House Democrats had been moving forward with plans to diminish Weiner’s role in Congress by removing him from his post on the Energy and Commerce Committee. On Monday, President Barack Obama suggested Weiner should resign.
The stunning fall of the up-and-coming politician seemed to come out of left field. Weiner initially denied sending a salacious photo over Twitter, saying his account had been hacked. He then modified his story, calling it a prank. In short order, though, the true scope of the situation became clear.
Weiner held an astounding news conference in which he held back tears, admitting inappropriate behavior online both before and after his marriage.
Conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart claimed he had a graphic picture of Weiner, and promised not to release it. Within a few days, though, it hit the web, after Breitbart showed it to a pair of radio show hosts, who uploaded the picture.
Weiner sought a two-week leave of absence for unspecified treatment, but that didn’t stop the chorus of calls for him to step down.
“Weinergate,” as it came to be known, even prompted a company to build an anatomically correct Anthony Weiner doll.
How do you feel about his decision to step down? Sound off in our comments section.