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Congressman Weiner resigns

/ Source: NBC News and news services

U.S. congressman Anthony Weiner announced his resignation Thursday, done in by lewd photos he took of himself, sent to women online and then adamantly lied about after being caught.

"I'm here today to again apologize for the personal mistakes I have made and the embarrassment I have caused," he said reading from a brief statement in New York's Brooklyn borough.

"I make this apology to my neighbors and my constituents, but I make it particularly to my wife, Huma."

Weiner's wife was absent as he announced his decision, as she was 10 days ago when he admitted having sent inappropriate messages and photos to several women online.

"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," said Weiner. "But unfortunately the distraction that I have created has made that impossible."

He said he would resign "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."

During the announcement, Benjy Bronk, a performer on the Howard Stern show, interrupted Weiner, shouting profanities. He was escorted out the room by police.

In part, that echoed what party leaders have said for days as they pressured him to resign so Democrats could resume positioning themselves for the 2012 election campaign without constant criticism from Republicans on moral grounds.

Weiner, 46, took a leave of absence and had been at a treatment facility at an undisclosed location since last weekend. Until Thursday's press conference, he had not been seen in public since telling reporters last Saturday he intended to return to work.

Weiner's decision to give up his House seat marks the end of a scandal that resulted from the brash New Yorker's use of social media such as Twitter and Facebook.

He at first denied having sent any inappropriate photos, then recanted in a remarkable news conference 10 days ago at which he admitted having exchanged inappropriate messages with several women.

His confession triggered a tabloid-style frenzy in print and online that only grew more pronounced a few days later when an X-rated photo of the lawmaker surfaced on a website.

After initially calling for a House ethics committee investigation, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi dramatically ramped up the pressure on Saturday when she joined other party leaders in calling on Weiner to step down.

Within hours, Weiner disclosed his plans to enter treatment, and Pelosi's aides made it known that did not negate her demand for a resignation.

Several officials have said in recent days that Weiner was reluctant to make any decision about his career without speaking with his wife, Huma Abedin, a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who had been overseas since shortly after the scandal broke. The trip ended Tuesday night.

Abedin is pregnant with the couple's first child.

A photographic retrospective of embarrassing episodes.

The Democrat's decision to leave Congress marks at least an ignominious pause if not an end in a once-promising career. Weiner ran for New York mayor in 2005, and had talked of seeking the office again.

His outspoken, in-your-face style cheered liberal supporters and angered conservatives. He even irritated some party leaders in 2009 when he led the charge for a government-run health care system long after the White House had made it clear that President Barack Obama was opposed.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to call a special election to fill the seat.

Weiner's problems began on May 28 when BigGovernment.com, a website run by conservative commentator Andrew Breitbart, posted a lewd photograph of an underwear-clad crotch and said it had been sent from Weiner's Twitter account to a Seattle woman.

Initially, Weiner lied, saying his account had been hacked. But he pointedly did not report the incident to law enforcement — a step that could have led the way to charges of wrongdoing far more serious than mere sexting.