Pelosi upped the ante. She issued a statement Saturday, calling publicly for him to go. It was followed quickly by one from Israel and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
A group of Weiner’s friends in Congress objected and confronted Pelosi on Tuesday. Their complaint, participants and aides said, was that Weiner had been “thrown under the bus” without being found guilty of ethics violations.
Weiner’s friends saw a contrast between Pelosi’s treatment of Weiner and her treatment of Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.). Pelosi allowed Rangel to remain chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee for 18 months while he was under an ethics investigation — which ultimately led to him being found guilty of 11 ethics violations related to personal finances.
“Isn’t it interesting,” Pascrell said Thursday, “that there’s always something more mysterious about flesh than there is about cash.”
But by Wednesday, Weiner had made his decision. That night, Israel was at a White House picnic for members of Congress when his BlackBerry rang. It was Weiner. He was resigning.
Israel told him to hold on for a minute.
The Long Island Democrat walked across the White House lawn to find Pelosi and handed her the phone. Weiner told Pelosi the same thing.
On Thursday, he told everybody else.
“I make this apology to my neighbors and my constituents, but I make it particularly to my wife, Huma.” Weiner’s pregnant wife, Huma Abedin, a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, did not appear with her husband as he made his announcement.
Political observers said that Weiner’s scandal is unlikely to change the course of the 2012 elections: It is not part of broader wrongdoing among Democrats, they said, and is likely to be long forgotten by then.
In the short term, Weiner’s resignation triggers a special election to fill his seat, which stretches across the outer sections of Brooklyn and Queens. New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) will be charged with calling for that election.
Political observers say the seat leans Democratic. But this special election could have special complications. New York needs to cut two congressional seats in the redistricting process, and state legislators might choose to eliminate Weiner’s seat. That would allow them to give his territory to incumbents nearby.
So the state’s Democratic power brokers may need somebody ambitious enough to win the seat — and then selfless enough to give it up.
On Thursday, even as he announced his resignation, Weiner seemed unwilling to concede that his career is over. In his speech, he extolled his upbringing, as the son of a mother who was a schoolteacher and a father who attended law school on the G.I. Bill. He talked up his constituents and his work on their behalf.
The words sounded like those of someone at the start of a political career, not its shame-faced end.
“I had hoped to be able to continue the work that the citizens of my district elected me to do: to fight for the middle class and those struggling to make it,” Weiner said.
But, as Weiner announced his resignation, a heckler cheered and shouted, “Bye, bye, pervert!”
The TV cameras picked that up, too.
Staff writers Chris Cillizza, Karen Tumulty and Felicia Sonmez contributed to this report.