Updated 06/12/2011 10:39 AM
Weiner To Seek "Professional Treatment," Requests Leave Of Absence
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Congressman Anthony Weiner is requesting a short leave of absence to seek professional treatment in light of his recent Twitter scandal.
He told reporters on Saturday, "This is ultimately a decision for my constituents. I made mistakes, as I said on Monday. A lot of these questions I answered on Monday, now I am just going to try to get back to work."
Under House of Representatives rules, members can request a short leave from their legislative duties. However, the request must include a reason and be submitted in writing for approval by the House Speaker.
Weiner's statement came just hours after top Democrats called on the embattled congressman to resign.
In a statement, Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz said, in part, "This sordid affair has become an unacceptable distraction for Representative 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."
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi also called for Weiner's resignation, saying in part, "Congressman Weiner has the love of his family, the confidence of his constituents, and the recognition that he needs help. I urge Congressman Weiner to seek that help without the pressures of being a Member of Congress.”
Pelosi had previously stated the voters should decide his political future.
New York Representative and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chair Steve Israel also released a statement saying, "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."
Senator Charles Schumer, Weiner's political mentor, did not mention whether the congressman should resign, but said in a statement, "I am heartbroken. For those of us who are longtime friends of Anthony Weiner his wrongful behavior is distressing and saddening. It’s clear he needs professional help and I am glad he is seeking it."
The controversy all stems from a lewd photo that was sent out from Weiner's Twitter account two weeks ago. He originally said his account had been hacked and insisted the photo was not of him.
Weiner later revealed that he had engaged in inappropriate online conversations with about six women, and claims his messages to a 17-year-old Delaware girl were innocent.
Speaking to reporters on Saturday, Weiner defended his communication with the young girl, again saying he did nothing wrong.
"We put out a statement on that. She's spoken, I think that record is pretty clear," Weiner said. "Nothing explicit, nothing indecent, absolutely nothing inappropriate. This is ultimately a decision for my constituents. And, ya know, look, I made mistakes as I said on Monday. A lot of these questions I answered on Monday. Now I'm just going to try to get back to work."
Republicans have been calling for Weiner to resign since the scandal broke.
When Weiner first revealed his extensive online sex habit on Monday, he said he did not need professional help, saying, "This is not something that can be treated away, this is my own personal mistake."
Meanwhile, Weiner also had praise Saturday for his wife Huma Abedin, who is a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and pregnant with the congressman's first child.
"She's doing well. She's a remarkable woman who is working very hard," he said.
Weiner's constituents say they have mixed feelings about the scandal.
"I have a very hard time with the resigning thing. But, personally, in a very selfish way, I was crying when I heard. He was a voice for things I believed in, and that voice has now been taken away. Who's gonna take his place? Nobody. I'm so, so incredibly upset about that," said one Queens resident.
"I think it'd be kinda hard for him to gain people's trust after something like this, so that's probably his decision. But I definitely wouldn't trust him after something like this," said another.
"He can stay but he needs to be careful about what he does. People watching you, you really need to be careful," said a third.
The state's 9th Congressional District encompasses parts of Brooklyn and Queens. Weiner was first elected to represent the district in 1998.
A NY1/Marist poll earlier this week showed a slim majority of his constituents want him to stay in office.