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Rep. Anthony Weiner stepping down

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Rep. Anthony Weiner plans to announce at a 2 p.m. press conference in Brooklyn, N.Y. Thursday that he has made the decision to resign from Congress amid a growing scandal over his lewd online communications.

News broke this morning that the New York Democrat had informed friends that he would be stepping down from Congress, the New York Times first reported.

NBC reported just before the news broke that Weiner's staff appeared to be packing up the congressman's office this morning. NBC's Alex Moe reports that two staff members and two interns left the office with their belongings, turned off the lights and locked the door.

Weiner's move was widely expected in the face of increasing pressure from colleagues as well as the public.

Last week, Weiner admitted he had lied about his dealings with women he had met online--but insisted he wouldn't resign. On Saturday, his office announced he had entered "treatment," after top Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi, publicly called on him to leave Congress.

Weiner had previously indicated that he wished to speak with his wife Huma Abedin, who is pregnant with the couple's first child, before deciding on his political future. Abedin returned to Washington yesterday following a trip to Africa with her boss Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

House Democrats today were scheduled to meet to discuss potential next steps to punish the New York congressman, including possibly stripping him of his committee assignments (he currently sits on the powerful House Energy and Commerce as well as the Judiciary committee), and expelling him from the Democratic caucus.

The scandal, which first broke three weeks ago, continued to deepen this week.

Just yesterday, porn star Ginger Lee held a press conference to announce that the congressman had asked her to lie about their online communications. "I think that Anthony Weiner should resign because he lied to the public and the press for more than a week," Lee said.

Weiner was asked about his Twitter communications with Lee when the scandal broke; he told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that Lee probably received "pro-forma"  messages from his account and that was all.

Lee claims Weiner sent her specific messages about his "package." She had previously shared her communications with Weiner with the site TMZ.

Lee hired celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred to make her case to a national audience and multiple news outlets report that an Atlanta strip club was already using the scandal to promote her appearance at their venue Wednesday night.

(Photo of a an unidentified woman offering support to Weiner on June 11: David Karp/AP)

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