One day after senior Democratic lawmakers called on Rep. Anthony Weiner to resign, nearly a dozen new suggestive photos taken by the New York lawmaker surfaced online.
The photos, first reported by the celebrity gossip Web site TMZ.com, show Weiner posing in front of mirrors in the House gym and, in some of them, grabbing his crotch. In one of the photos, Weiner is wearing nothing but a towel held over his groin.
According to TMZ, Weiner sent the photos to at least one woman online. A Weiner spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The photos come nearly a week after Weiner, a seven-term congressman representing Brooklyn and Queens, acknowledged that he had lied in an effort to cover up his inappropriate online communications with at least six women across the country. In the days since Weiner’s admission, more photos of the congressman and accounts of his online interactions with various women have surfaced, including one report Friday that Delaware police were questioning a 17-year-old girl about her communications with the lawmaker. Weiner’s office has said that his interactions with the student “were neither explicit nor indecent.”
Despite calls from top Democrats for his resignation as well as a potential ethics committee investigation, Weiner has said he has no plans to give up his seat. He announced through a spokeswoman on Saturday that he is seeking unspecified professional treatment.
That announcement did little to quell debate over the Weiner saga, which appears likely to intensify further as the House returns this week from a week-long recess.
Sunday morning on “Meet the Press,” Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, one of several party leaders who on Saturday issued a call for Weiner to resign, faced no shortage of questions on the controversy in her first televised debate with her GOP counterpart, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus.
Asked by host David Gregory what Democratic leaders can do if Weiner insists on holding onto his seat, Wasserman Schultz said that the final decision is Weiner’s to make.
“Well, at the end of the day, a member of Congress makes their own decision, and that’s certainly going to be up to Anthony Weiner,” she said. “But we have made it clear that he needs to resign. He needs to focus on getting his own personal issues in order, focus on his family and do the right thing by his constituents.”
Wasserman Schultz added that she had spoken briefly with Weiner last week and described the congressman as “incredibly apologetic” and “devastated that this is conduct that he has been engaged in.”
House Minority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), who was not among the Democratic leaders on Saturday calling on Weiner to step aside, said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that he hoped the scandal-ridden congressman would reflect during his leave of absence on whether or not to give up his seat, although he stopped short of calling for Weiner’s resignation outright.
“It seems to me extraordinarily difficult that he can proceed to represent his constituents in an effective way given the circumstances this bizarre behavior has led to,” said Hoyer, the number-two House Democrat.