As more tawdry photos emerge, Weiner 'circus' hijacks lawmakers' agenda

The scandal surrounding Rep. Anthony Weiner dominated the political conversation again on Sunday, as members of both parties stepped up calls for the New York Democrat's resignation and more scandalous self-portrait photos surfaced.

The chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee said she and other leaders only called for Rep. Anthony Weiner’s resignation after he refused to quit following his admission to sending explicit messages and photos to women through social media.

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“Since this story broke we were giving Congressman Weiner some breathing room to be circumspect, do the right thing, reach the conclusion that he needed to step back and step down on his own,” Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-Fla.) said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “As of yesterday when that didn’t happen, it was important to weigh in.”

Wasserman-Schultz joined House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other party leaders Saturday in calling for Weiner to resign. Weiner said he would request a short of absence and had checked himself into a treatment facility, his spokeswoman said afterward.

On the same show Reince Priebus, the Republican Party chairman, accused Democrats of a failure of leadership for not forcing Weiner out.

“He turned this town and this country into a three-ringed circus,” Priebus said.

To add to the salacious drama, the gossip website TMZ published a new batch of images, showing what appears to be the congressman in various stages of undress in a gym locker room. TMZ said Weiner took the pictures of himself "at the House Members Gym and sent them to at least one woman."

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) joined in the chorus of calls for Weiner to go following his “bizarre” and “unacceptable” behavior. 

"I don’t see how he can proceed and effectively represent his constituency," Hoyer said on CBS' "Face the Nation."

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanHow Kevin McCarthy sold his soul to Donald Trump On The Trail: Retirements offer window into House Democratic mood Stopping the next insurrection MORE (R-Wis.) echoed his party's chairman and said the situation was "getting beyond ridiculous."

“We have got to get this behind us because it is a distraction, and so, yes, he should resign,” Ryan said on "Face the Nation." “We have got important work to do, and this is just a ridiculous distraction.”

"It's beyond anything I can comprehend what's happened here with him," said Rep. Charlie Bass (R-N.H.) on CNN's "State of the Union. "And if I were he, I would resign from the Congress and make ... try to rebuild my life and move on."


Pelosi has called for an Ethics Committee probe of Weiner’s behavior, but Hoyer noted that would be a time-consuming process and said he hoped the matter would be resolved faster.

“I really don't know that we have that time. And I would hope that Mr. Weiner would use this opportunity to reflect upon whether or not he can effectively proceed. I don't see how he can, and I hope he would make that judgment,” Hoyer said Sunday.


Wasserman-Schultz tried to shift the conversation away from Democrats' possible responsibility for their troubled colleague and to put this scandal in the context of other recent escapades in Washington. 

She pivoted to accusing Republicans of hypocrisy. She noted that Sen. David VitterDavid Bruce VitterBiden inaugural committee to refund former senator's donation due to foreign agent status Bottom line Lysol, Charmin keep new consumer brand group lobbyist busy during pandemic MORE (R-La.) remains in office despite his connection to a prostitution service and that Priebus did not demand Sen. John Ensign’s resignation after the Nevada Republican admitted to an affair with a staffer.

“You never called for his resignation, so there’s a double standard,” Wasserman-Schultz said.

Priebus dismissed the Vitter case as “a five-year-old story” and said, “I’m not defending these guys.”

Wasserman-Schultz said she spoke to Weiner on Saturday and described him as “incredibly apologetic” and “remorseful,” but she did not back off her call for him to step down. She indicated there was little Democrats could do to force him out and said he would have to make his own decision about returning to the House after his leave of absence.

“I just hope that Anthony goes and gets the help that he needs,” Wasserman-Schultz said.

Jamie Klatell contributed to this post.