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Rep. Weiner digs in, says he will not resign

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) on Thursday said he will not resign from Congress, exasperating Democrats in Washington who are now bracing for the story to go into its third week.

Asked directly if he would resign, Weiner responded, “I’m not.”

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“I’m going to get back to work as best I can,” he told the New York Post. “I betrayed a lot of people, and I know it, and I’m trying to get back to work now and try to make amends to my constituents, and of course to my family. … I’m going to go back to my community office and try to get some work done.”

Weiner’s comments come as the Democratic drumbeat for his resignation is growing louder, with a number of rank-and-file members urging the New Yorker to go.

In separate statements Wednesday, Democratic Reps. Niki Tsongas (Mass.), Larry Kissell (N.C.), Mike Michaud (Maine), Mike Ross (Ark.) and Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyRepublicans fret over divisive candidates Everybody wants Joe Manchin Centrist Democrats pose major problem for progressives MORE (Ind.) all slammed Weiner’s behavior as unbefitting of a U.S. congressman.

“Enough is enough,” Donnelly said in a statement. “It’s time for Congressman Weiner to resign.” Donnelly is running for Sen. Dick Lugar’s (R-Ind.) seat in 2012. 

Former Democratic National Committee Chairman and now Senate candidate Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineOvernight Defense: Pentagon pulling some air defense assets from Middle East | Dems introduce resolution apologizing to LGBT community for discrimination | White House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine Democrats introduce resolution apologizing to LGBT community for government discrimination Democrats scramble to unify before election bill brawl MORE became the first Democrat to call on Weiner to step aside. Rep. Allyson Schwartz (Pa.) was the first House Democrat. 

Schwartz leading the charge was no accident — A close ally of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), she is also in charge of recruiting Democratic candidates for the 2012 elections.

Senators are also weighing in on the scandal. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyShelby signals GOP can accept Biden's .5T with more for defense Bipartisan lawmakers want Biden to take tougher action on Nicaragua Biden budget expands government's role in economy MORE (D-Vt.) wants a Weiner resignation, while Senate Ethics Committee Chairwoman Barbara BoxerBarbara Levy BoxerBottom line Trump administration halting imports of cotton, tomatoes from Uighur region of China Biden inaugural committee to refund former senator's donation due to foreign agent status MORE (D-Calif.) called Weiner’s conduct “horrible.” 

The Weiner story first broke two weeks ago, when the New York Democrat lied about his Twitter account being hacked. The married congressman earlier this week admitted his attempt to cover up the fact that he had sent racy photos of himself to “about six women.”

Pelosi was livid when Weiner called her 15 minutes before his tearful public confession on Monday to say he had fabricated the story, a senior Democratic aide said.

Pelosi has called on the House Ethics Committee to investigate whether Weiner broke any chamber rules with his virtual trysts, but she has not called on Weiner to quit.

That job fell to Schwartz, whose statement on Wednesday was two sentences long.

“Having the respect of your constituents is fundamental for a member of Congress,” Schwartz said. “In light of Anthony Weiner’s offensive behavior online, he should resign.”

Although Democrats are scrambling to curtail the damage from Weiner’s sexually charged messages, there’s also no evidence he broke any laws or congressional rules.

“They want to be very careful about setting a precedent here,” a Democratic strategist who requested anonymity said. “This is kind-of unchartered territory.”

For that same reason, some of the crisis-management tools used by Democratic leaders to address scandals of the past might not work this time around, the strategist said.

When Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) faced ethics charges in 2008, for instance, Pelosi successfully pressured the Ways and Means chairman to relinquish the gavel. And after Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.) was indicted on corruption charges, Pelosi removed him from the Ways and Means Committee.

But Weiner has not been charged with any crime, and it’s unclear if he violated House rules. 

Weiner sits on the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee. Democrats with less seniority lost their seats on the A-level panel after Republicans won the House last fall.

Both the Rangel and Jefferson sagas lingered for many months, and the Weiner story has the potential to do the same. Indeed, ethics experts are predicting that an investigation into Weiner’s communications would extend into 2012 — a presidential election year when the Democrats are hoping to win back the House majority.

With that in mind, Democratic leaders have been quick to distance themselves from the brash New Yorker, not least of all due to fears that there’s more to the scandal than has been made public.

Weiner on Monday said he could not say for certain that the women he sent the photos to are adults.

“I don’t know the exact ages of the women … but they are all adults — at least to the best of my knowledge,” he said. “All I know is what they publish about themselves in social media. Someone could theoretically have been fibbing about it, and that’s a risk.”

The comments weren’t overlooked by political observers. “If any of his back-and-forth was with a minor, he’s toast,” said a former House Democratic leadership aide.

“I really cannot see how he stays,” the aide added, “but the man, obviously, has an ego.”