Democratic Leaders Call on Weiner to Resign

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The Queens congressman headed off to "treatment" on Saturday and requested a brief leave of absence from the House

L-R: Reps. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., and Steve Israel, D-N.Y.

Top Democratic leaders, led by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who was joined by the Democratic National Committee chair and head of the party's congressional campaign committee, called on Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., to resign on Saturday as part of a multi-pronged pincer move to shame the seven-term congressman into ending his career on Capitol Hill.

Pelosi said Weiner, who admitted Friday to carrying on private internet chats with a 17-year-old Delaware girl, needed help and must seek it "without the pressure of being a member of Congress."

DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz called his conduct "indefensible" and his status in Congress "untenable."

Similarly, Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, called for Weiner, embroiled for two weeks now in a sexting scandal, to leave Congress.

(LIST: Members who are calling for Weiner to step down)

Weiner, so far, has refused to step down.

The odds of survival for Weiner dwindled  after he admitted to the conversations with the Delaware girl, a junior in high school.

That admission came after a week in which Weiner embarrassingly reversed himself and admitted that he had sent lewd photographs of himself to women he met online and engaged in tawdry, sexually explicit conversations with those women both before and after he was married.

On Saturday, Pelosi said that Weiner should leave Congress and get the help he needs.

"Congressman Weiner has the love of his family, the confidence of his constituents, and the recognition that he needs help," Pelosi said in a statement issued Saturday afternnon. "I urge Congressman Weiner to seek that help without the pressures of being a Member of Congress."

"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," said Israel's statement. ""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, DC."

Weiner, already reeling from his admissions earlier in the week, was was forced to admit on Friday that he had had online contact with the 17-year-old  girl, and while police confirmed his assertion that the contact was not sexual, his position grew more tenuous.

Both Pelosi and Israel called Weiner in New York on Saturday to urge him to resign. They told him they had statements prepared to call for him to resign and vowed to release him if he didn't comply. Weiner told them that he would not make a move until his wife Huma Abedin, a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, returned from her trip to Africa and the Middle East with Clinton.

The White House coordinated Wasserman Schultz's statement with the DNC. Wasserman Schultz is due to appear on Meet the Press Sunday and the White House did not want Wasserman Schultz to face any Weiner questions without already calling emphatically for Weiner to resign.

As for the coordinated effort to get Weiner to go, a senior Democratic source told National Journal: "Nobody wants a third week of this distraction. We don't have any more time to wait and no one wants to bring any more disgrace onto the House."

Pressure has been building behind-the-scenes to coax Weiner to abandon his life in Congress and resign willingly. His refusal set in motion today's unprecedented array of pressure and condemnation from Democratic voices crucial to Weiner's future in the caucus.

"According to Congressman Weiner, his communications with this person were neither explicit nor indecent," said Risa Heller, who described herself as a public relations consultant to Weiner.

The New Castle County, Del., Police Department issued a statement on Saturday saying: "Detectives have conducted an interview with the teen and she has made no disclosure of criminal activity nor inappropriate contact by the Congressman."

Weiner became a "follower" of the girl via Twitter in April. He communicated with Direct Messages, known as DMing on Twitter. Such conversations occur privately between two participants on Twitter and cannot be read by the public.

(MORE: How Weiner fell into the Twitter direct-message trap)

Unlike some of the explicit, bawdy and overtly sexual communications between the six women, Weiner's conversations with the 17-year-old have not been reviewed and are currently unavailable.

Placed in the context of the scandal that has engulfed Weiner, the revelation about internet chatting with a 17-year-old could push the congressman's career into political oblivion.

"The little support he had is evaporating," said a top House Democratic source.

Said another House Democrat familiar with the ethics process: "I feel like there's still more to come. This is painful."

The seven-term congressman has not been accused of criminal wrong-doing. But the specter of the police investigation could mean Weiner's conduct has crossed a line--or, at minimum, authorities want to be sure of all dimensions of his conduct before reaching a conclusion.

Earlier Friday, Pelosi refused to tell Weiner to resign. Pelosi told the Associated Press she leaves such decisions to "the individual Member" and voters in their district.

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Major Garrett is a congressional correspondent for National Journal.

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