The Ticket

Anthony Weiner says he will take leave of absence, seek ‘treatment’ as scandal grows

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Just hours after three leading Democrats called on him to resign, Rep. Anthony Weiner announced he will take a leave of absence from Congress and enter a treatment program.

Saturday began with a major blow to Weiner's chances for survival, as  House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Rep. Steve Israel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, all issued statements urging Weiner to leave Congress.

Shortly after, Weiner's office announced that the embattled New York Democrat had decided to enter a treatment program, saying he "needs this time to get healthy and make the best possible decision" about his future.

"Congressman Weiner departed this morning to seek professional treatment to focus on becoming a better husband and healthier person," Weiner's office announced. "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."

It's unclear what type of treatment Weiner is seeking, but Democrats hinted it's not enough to overcome the scandal and urged him to resign.

"It is with great disappointment that I call on Rep. Anthony Weiner to resign," Wasserman Schultz's statement read. "The behavior he has exhibited is indefensible and [his] 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."

The developments came a day after it was revealed Delaware police questioned a 17-year-old girl about her Twitter exchanges with the embattled lawmaker. Weiner insisted late Friday his dealings with the girl were "neither explicit nor indecent"—a statement the girl's family backed up in an interview with the New York Times. But apparently the report was the final straw for Weiner's Democratic colleagues, who say they can no longer defend the disgraced congressman.

Pelosi, who initiated an House ethics investigation into Weiner's activities earlier this week, had refused as late as yesterday to call for her colleague's resignation. But she, too, reversed course Saturday.

"Congressman Weiner has the love of his family, the confidence of his constituents, and the recognition that he needs help," Pelosi said. "I urge Congressman Weiner to seek that help without the pressures of being a Member of Congress."

Israel, a fellow New York Democrat, also called his for colleague to resign, saying Weiner's "inappropriate behavior has become an insurmountable distraction to the House and our work for the American people."

The decision of all three Democratic leaders to go public with their resignation calls simultaneously is a strong hint that back-channel efforts among party officials to convince Weiner to leave Congress on his own have failed.

Weiner has repeatedly insisted he won't leave Congress, citing the support of his constituents and his wife, Huma Abedin. On Monday, the New York Democrat admitted he'd lied about risqué online relationships with six women he had met on Facebook and Twitter.

(Photo of Weiner: David Karp/AP)

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