Democrats increased pressure on embattled Rep. Anthony Weiner on Saturday, with a chorus of party leaders calling for his resignation.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader, and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), the chair of the Democratic National Committee, as well as Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), who heads the party's campaign arm, virtually simultaneously said it was time for Weiner to step aside.
The most intense push yet for Weiner to quit comes on the heel of reports Friday night that police were investigating Weiner's online contacts with a 17-year-old girl in Delaware. Weiner's office issued a statement Friday evening saying that there was no "explicit" or "indecent" communication between Weiner and the girl.
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Despite rapidly becoming a pariah within his party, Weiner has been defiant, insisting he will not resign and will leave the matter to his constituents in Brooklyn and Queens, many of whom have expressed support for the seven-term congressman.
“Congressman Weiner has the love of his family, the confidence of his constituents, and the recognition that he needs help," Pelosi (D-San Francisco) said in a statement. "I urge Congressman Weiner to seek that help without the pressures of being a member of Congress.”
Wasserman Schultz called Weiner's behavior "indefensible" and said that Weiner's "continued service in Congress is untenable."
"This sordid affair has become an unacceptable distraction for Rep. Weiner, his family, his constituents and the House -- and 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," she said.
Said Israel: “Anthony’s inappropriate behavior has become an insurmountable distraction to the House and our work for the American people."
A senior Democratic aide said Saturday that the push was coordinated -- partially in response to Weiner's assertion to Democratic leaders that he would seek treatment. Democrats also sought to have a consistent message concerning the scandal as the House returns to work next week under heavy media scrutiny.
The sideshow has swiftly become a political nightmare for Democrats, hampering their ability to focus on economic issues in advance of next year's elections.
Weiner, 46, has admitted to sexually charged online liaisons with at least six women, although he maintains that he has never met any of them. He is married to Huma Abedin, an aide to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Reports last week said Abedin was pregnant with the couple's first child.
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