Anthony Weiner to Seek Professional Treatment, Requests Leave of Absence

Spokeswoman says congressman wants to "make himself well."

ByABC News
June 11, 2011, 2:31 PM

June 11, 2011— -- Rep. Anthony Weiner is requesting a short leave absence from his congressional duties as he seeks professional treatment "to make himself well," his spokeswoman said today.

Weiner's announcement came as one after another, top Democrats -- including House minority leader Nancy Pelosi and the chairs of both the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic Nation Committee -- came out with calls for his resignation.

"Congressman Weiner departed this morning to seek professional treatment to focus on becoming a better husband and healthier person. In light of that, he will request a short leave of absence from the House of Representatives so that he can get evaluated and map out a course of treatment to make himself well," Weiner spokeswoman Risa Heller said in a statement released this afternoon.

"Congressman Weiner takes the views of his colleagues very seriously and has determined that he needs this time to get healthy and make the best decision possible for himself, his family and his constituents," she said.

There have been scattered calls from other Democrats for the New York congressman to resign since he admitted having risque online exchanges with women and lying about them.

But things seemed to reach a tipping point Friday when news broke that police in New Castle Del., were investigating tweets Weiner had exchanged tweets with a 17-year-old girl there.

"Anthony's inappropriate behavior has become an insurmountable distraction to the House and our work for the American people. With a heavy heart, I call on Anthony to resign," DCCC Chairman Steve Israel said in a statement today. "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, D.C."

DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz echoed Israel's remarks in a statement of her own.

"It is with great disappointment that I call on Representative Anthony Weiner to resign," she said. "The behavior he has exhibited is indefensible and Representative Weiner's continued service in Congress is untenable. 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."

Earlier today, in a statement, Nancy Pelosi urged the New York Democrat to seek "help without the pressures of being a Member of Congress."

Pelosi and Israel both spoke with Weiner before issuing their statements calling on him to resign.

According to a source familiar with both conversations, Weiner was "very emotional" but not ready to resign.

Top Democrats, Republicans Call for His Resignation

Pennsylvania Rep. Allyson Schwartz, a top DCCC official, called Weiner's behavior "offensive" and said he should resign.

"Having the respect of your constituents is fundamental for a member of Congress," she said in an interview with Politico.

Schwartz joins a handful of other sitting Democrats, including Sens. Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Patrick Leahy of Vermont, and former DNC chairman Tim Kaine in calling for Weiner to step down.

Top Republicans, including RNC chairman Reince Preibus and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, have also said Weiner should go.

But some observers say the message to Weiner is hypocritical and politically motivated, given both public opinion polling showing that a majority of New Yorkers think Weiner should stay and the fact that Weiner has not been accused of breaking the law or convicted of violating any House rules.

"This is a massive overreaction and I don't understand it," said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

Sloan pointed to the recent ethics case of another New York congressman, Charles Rangel, as an example of the double standard being pushed by some Democrats for Weiner.

The House Ethics Committee found Rangel -- the former chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, which writes the nation's tax laws -- guilty of improper fundraising, inappropriate possession of multiple rent-controlled apartments and failure to pay taxes on a vacation home, among other charges.