Debbie Wasserman Schultz becomes the latest high-profile democrat to say the Brooklyn congressman should step down
Democratic leaders are now calling on Rep. Anthony Weiner to resign after the New York lawmaker embroiled in a Twitter scandal admitted he had online contact with a Delaware teenager.
National party chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz says Weiner’s behavior is “indefensible” and his role in Congress is “untenable.”
The Florida congresswoman says “this sordid affair has become an unacceptable distraction” for everyone.
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California says Weiner “needs help” and he should get some “without the pressures of being a member of Congress.”
Meanwhile, a teenage girl from Delaware has been interviewed by police about online contact she had with Weiner, communications he has said were “neither explicit nor indecent.” Authorities said the teen didn’t say anything about illegal conduct.
It’s the latest turn in a scandal that has some members of Congress calling for the New York Democrat to step down, after he admitted sending graphic photos to women online.
The 46-year-old congressman acknowledged Friday that he had online contact with the 17-year-old girl but said there was nothing inappropriate. The New York Democrat issued his statement after FoxNews.com reported Friday that officers had interviewed the high school junior at her family’s home north of Wilmington.
“They were made aware of an alleged contact between Congressman Anthony Weiner and an area teen,” said Officer Tracey Duffy, a New Castle County police spokeswoman. “The teen has been interviewed and disclosed no information regarding any criminal activity.”
Duffy said she doesn’t know what led to the girl being questioned or whether the family had called police.
“I don’t know what information they received that would prompt them to respond to this residence,” she said. Duffy said the investigation was continuing.
Weiner spokeswoman Risa Heller said in a one-sentence statement Friday night, “According to Congressman Weiner, his communications with this person were neither explicit nor indecent.”
The congressman said he exchanged at least five private messages on Twitter this spring with the girl after she heard him speak in Washington and became an admirer, The New York Times reported.
Late Friday night, no one answered when an Associated Press reporter called and knocked at the door of the teen’s house even though lights were on and people were inside. The modest two-story house, in a neighborhood near the Pennsylvania border, had red, white and blue bows on the porch and two small American flags planted in the ground.
Neighbor Ben Melvin said the media was paying way too much attention to the Weiner episode.
“I don’t think it’s good for her and I don’t think it’s good for the nation,” Melvin said. “It’s a sideshow. It has nothing to do with his abilities as a representative. On the other hand it obviously shows some lack of judgment or something.”
A shirtless man approached reporters standing outside the family’s house and began threatening them with an ax. New Castle County police took the man into custody.
FoxNews.com reported that two officers visited the girl’s home around 4:30 p.m. and that they were joined by another officer. The website reported that police left after about 30 minutes, and that the girl and her mother then departed in a separate car. FoxNews.com reported that the girl, whom it declined to identify because she is a minor, said, “I’m doing OK.”
The news website had a reporter outside the house when the police visit occurred.
Weiner, a seven-term Democrat, has acknowledged sending sexually explicit messages over the Internet to a half-dozen women over the past three years and then lying about it. Weiner is married to Huma Abedin, a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton; Abedin is pregnant with the couple’s first child.
At least nine House members and three senators said Weiner should resign. He has repeatedly said he would not.
U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, said Thursday he wished Weiner would resign “to get that story off the front page.” He said the controversy distracts from pressing economic issues. Two former Democratic Party chairmen also said he should resign.
Weiner did pick up support from U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel, a New York Democrat who was censured by the House last year for ethics violations. Rangel suggested that other members of Congress had done things more immoral than Weiner.
Rangel said Weiner “wasn’t going with prostitutes. He wasn’t going out with little boys.”
Associated Press writer Sarah Brumfield in Baltimore contributed to this report.
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