Top Democratic leaders, led by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who was joined by the Democratic National Committee chair and head of the party's congressional campaign committee, called on Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., to resign on Saturday as part of a multi-pronged pincer move to shame the seven-term congressman into ending his career on Capitol Hill. Weiner, has so far refused, saying through a spokeswoman that he will seek treatment and a leave of absence from the House "so that he can get evaluated and map out a course of treatment to make himself well."
Pelosi said Weiner, who admitted Friday to carrying on private internet chats with a 17-year-old Delaware girl, needed help and must seek it "without the pressure of being a member of Congress."
DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz called his conduct "indefensible" and his status in Congress "untenable."
Similarly, Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, called for Weiner, embroiled for two weeks now in a sexting scandal, to leave Congress.
Weiner, so far, has refused to step down.
The odds of survival for Weiner dwindled after he admitted to the conversations with the Delaware girl, a junior in high school.
That admission came after a week in which Weiner embarrassingly reversed himself and admitted that he had sent lewd photographs of himself to women he met online and engaged in tawdry, sexually explicit conversations with those women both before and after he was married.
On Saturday, Pelosi said that Weiner should leave Congress and get the help he needs.
“Congressman Weiner has the love of his family, the confidence of his constituents, and the recognition that he needs help," Pelosi said in a statement issued Saturday afternnon. "I urge Congressman Weiner to seek that help without the pressures of being a Member of Congress.”
“Anthony’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," said Israel's statement. "“I pray for his family and hope that Anthony will take time to get the help he needs without the distractions and added pressures of Washington, DC.”
Weiner, already reeling from his admissions earlier in the week, was was forced to admit on Friday that he had had online contact with the 17-year-old girl, and while police confirmed his assertion that the contact was not sexual, his position grew more tenuous.
Both Pelosi and Israel called Weiner in New York on Saturday to urge him to resign. They told him they had statements prepared to call for him to resign and vowed to release him if he didn't comply. Weiner told them that he would not make a move until his wife Huma Abedin, a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, returned from her trip to Africa and the Middle East with Clinton. Abedin is expected back on Wednesday.
The White House coordinated Wasserman Schultz's statement with the DNC. Wasserman Schultz is due to appear on Meet the Press Sunday and the White House did not want Wasserman Schultz to face any Weiner questions without already calling emphatically for Weiner to resign.
As for the coordinated effort to get Weiner to go, a senior Democratic source told National Journal: "Nobody wants a third week of this distraction. We don't have any more time to wait and no one wants to bring any more disgrace onto the House."
Pressure has been building behind-the-scenes to coax Weiner to abandon his life in Congress and resign willingly. His refusal set in motion today's unprecedented array of pressure and condemnation from Democratic voices crucial to Weiner's future in the caucus. After the chorus of calls for his resignation, Weiner's private communications consultant, someone not on the government payroll, Risa Heller, issused a statement on his behalf. "Congressman Weiner departed this morning to seek professional treatment to focus on becoming a better husband and healthier person. 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," Risa wrote. "Congressman Weiner takes the views of his colleagues very seriously and has determined that he needs this time to get healthy and make the best decision possible for himself, his family and his constituents.”
It was the Friday admission about the 17-year-old that drove the Democratic leadership over the edge."According to Congressman Weiner, his communications with this person were neither explicit nor indecent," said Heller.
The New Castle County, Del., Police Department issued a statement on Saturday saying: "Detectives have conducted an interview with the teen and she has made no disclosure of criminal activity nor inappropriate contact by the Congressman."
Weiner became a "follower" of the girl via Twitter in April. He communicated with Direct Messages, known as DMing on Twitter. Such conversations occur privately between two participants on Twitter and cannot be read by the public.
Unlike some of the explicit, bawdy and overtly sexual communications between the six women, Weiner's conversations with the 17-year-old have not been reviewed and are currently unavailable.
Placed in the context of the scandal that has engulfed Weiner, the revelation about internet chatting with a 17-year-old could push the congressman's career into political oblivion.
"The little support he had is evaporating," said a top House Democratic source.
Said another House Democrat familiar with the ethics process: "I feel like there's still more to come. This is painful."
The seven-term congressman has not been accused of criminal wrong-doing. But the specter of the police investigation could mean Weiner's conduct has crossed a line--or, at minimum, authorities want to be sure of all dimensions of his conduct before reaching a conclusion.
Earlier Friday, Pelosi refused to tell Weiner to resign. Pelosi told the Associated Press she leaves such decisions to "the individual Member" and voters in their district.