Obama says of Weiner: ‘If it was me, I would resign’
President Obama said Monday that he would step down if he were in Rep. Anthony Weiner’s shoes, questioning the New York Democrat’s ability to serve constituents amid “personal distractions.”
Hours earlier, the White House broke its silence on Weiner and his sexting scandal, saying the drama was diverting attention from important issues like the economy. But a spokesman stopped short of making an explicit demand for Weiner’s resignation.
In an interview with NBC’s Ann Curry, Obama chose his words carefully.
“Ultimately there’s going to be a decision for him and his constituents,” he said. “I can tell you that if it was me, I would resign.”
Public service “is exactly that, it’s a service to the public,” Obama said. “And when you get to the point where, because of various personal distractions, you can’t serve as effectively as you need to at the time when people are worrying about jobs and their mortgages and paying the bills, then you should probably step back.”
Weiner has admitted that he lied when he denied he had sent revealing photos to young women on Twitter. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) has called for his resignation, as have Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, and other party officials.
Instead, Weiner took a two-week leave of absence to seek treatment. The House granted the leave unanimously Monday but made clear that it would be better if he never came back.
Pelosi told reporters she hoped her colleague “will hear this and know that it’s in his best interest for him to leave Congress.”
Asked whether she would strip Weiner of committee assignments, she said, “This is beyond that. If we are asking him to leave, we certainly are not going to welcome him here with committee assignments.”
Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin, an aide to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, is overseas traveling with her boss. Abedin reportedly is pregnant; she and Weiner have been married less than a year.