Embattled Rep. Anthony Weiner has announced his resignation from Congress, 20 days after he misfired a photo of his enlarged groin onto Twitter, unraveling a scandal that eventually revealed a series of sexual relationships with women he met online and lies he told to cover them up.
Weiner made the announcement Thursday in his district, at a senior center where he launched his political career 20 years ago as a City Council candidate.
"I had hoped to be able to continue the work that the citizens of my district elected me to do," Weiner said in a brief appearance.
"Unfortunately, the distraction that I have created has made that impossible," he went on, "so today I am announcing my resignation from Congress, so my colleagues can get back to work, my neighbors can choose a new representative, and most importantly, that my wife and I can continue to heal from the damage I have caused."
The House adjourned for the weekend without Weiner's resignation being put into the record, so he is still a congressman until next week. The next opportunity for it to be formally submitted is on Monday.
Weiner had insisted for days that he would not step down. But pressure mounted from leaders in both parties, including President Barack Obama, who broke his silence in an NBC interview, saying if it were him, he'd resign.
Last weekend Weiner had said his plan was to get treatment, but political leaders said that was not enough, and kept hammering away at him to step down as Congress returned to work on Monday.
The 46-year-old married lawmaker first sent the photo to a female Twitter follower on May 27. Shortly afterward, he sent out a tweet claiming he had been hacked, a lie he maintained for 10 days. During that time he alternated between silence and multiple media appearances, at points becoming irate that reporters would not let the issue go.
During a key interview with MSNBC, Weiner said he could not say "with certitude" that it wasn't him in the photo. He also hired a lawyer and declined to involve police in the supposed hacking, which raised flags among those who believed he had sent the lewd tweet.
On June 6, hours after conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart announced that he had more incriminating photos of Weiner, including graphic sexual images, the congressman called a news conference where he confessed to tweeting the original photo and said he had maintained several other "inappropriate" relationships online.
"To be clear, the picture was of me, and I sent it," he said that day, at times choking up. "I haven’t told the truth, and I’ve done things I deeply regret. I brought pain to people I care about the most and the people who believed in me, and for that I’m deeply sorry."
Pelosi quickly moved to launch an ethics investigation in Congress to determine whether Weiner had violated rules there.
Weiner, who was first elected to Congress in 1998 and was considered a front-runner for New York City mayor in 2013, said he did not break any laws.
He also insisted he never met any of the women he corresponded with. He said his wife, longtime Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, knew about previous relationships he had before they were married last year, but only found out about the groin photo on the day he publicly confessed.
Days later, it was revealed she is pregnant with their first child.
"She deserves much better than this and I know that," he said.
Still, Weiner insisted he would not leave his seat.
But his own party began to abandon him, calling for his resignation, one after another. As the days passed, more embarrassing photos leaked out, along with transcripts of messages Weiner allegedly sent to various women.
The latest photos showed Weiner, some half-naked and posing with a towel, that he shot with his BlackBerry in the House members' gym, raising again questions about whether he had crossed ethics lines by engaging in this behavior on Capitol grounds.
A former porn actress on Wednesday also said Weiner told her to lie about their email relationship, and said he pestered her with sexually charged messages.
The scandal comes 20 years after Weiner first entered politics, running for City Council and becoming the youngest person, at age 27, ever elected at that time to the office. He served from 1992 to 1998, when he launched his first campaign for Congress.