Washington – Representative Anthony D. Weiner, an influential Democrat who had been considered a leading candidate to be the next mayor of New York City, said Thursday that he was resigning from Congress following revelations of lewd online exchanges with several women.
“I’m here to apologize for the personal mistakes I have made and the embarrassment that I have caused,” Mr. Weiner said, adding that he had hoped to be able to continue serving his constituents. “Unfortunately,” he said, “the distraction I created has made that impossible.”
Mr. Weiner announced his resignation in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, at a senior center where he announced his first campaign for City Council in 1991. But while that moment was filled with promise and excitement, his resignation occurred in a raucous and circus-like atmosphere, punctuated by shouting from a group of hecklers.
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Mr. Weiner tried to deliver his brief statement in a restrained manner, but struggled to be heard above the din of the hecklers, some of whom shouted vulgarities and one of whom called him a “pervert.”
Mr. Weiner said he had been proud to serve the people of his district who “represent the same middle class story as mine.”
He said he was stepping down so that he could “continue to heal from the damage I have caused.”
On Wednesday night, Mr. Weiner called Representative Nancy Pelosi of California and Representative Steve Israel of New York while they were at a White House picnic to inform them he had decided to resign, a top Democratic official said.
The news came as Democratic leaders prepared to hold a meeting on Thursday to discuss whether to strip the 46-year-old congressman of his committee assignments, a blow that would severely damage his effectiveness.
“Congressman Weiner exercised poor judgment in his actions and poor judgment in his reaction to the revelations,” Ms. Pelosi said in a statement. “Today, he made the right judgment in resigning.”
Mr. Weiner began telling his most trusted advisers about his decision on Wednesday night by phone, informing them that it no longer seemed fair to his constituents and his colleagues for him to remain in office.
Mr. Weiner, a Democrat, came to the conclusion that he could no longer serve after having long discussions with his wife, Huma Abedin, when she returned home on Tuesday after traveling abroad with her boss, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Ms. Abedin did not appear by his side on Thursday.
“I’m sorry it has come to this, but I think it’s best for both him and his family and for the Congress,” said Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, a fellow Democrat from New York. “While the disclosures of his behavior have been incredibly disappointing, I’m going to choose to remember all the good things he’s done for his district and our city.”
The scandal erupted last month after a photograph of Mr. Weiner wearing tight-fitting underpants was sent to a college student in Washington State. Mr. Weiner denied having anything to do with it, but during an emotional news conference on June 6, he admitted to having sent the image and to having had inappropriate online exchanges with at least six women.
Friends said that Mr. Weiner, who has been distraught for much of the past 10 days, seemed at peace with his decision on Wednesday night as he drafted a speech that will emphasize his political roots and public service. It has been a precipitous fall for Mr. Weiner, who had been considered a leading candidate for mayor in 2013.
Despite his decision, Mr. Weiner still had some supporters in his district, which includes neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens.
“He did nothing to hurt the public interest,” said Arie Ciuraru, 55, as he stood outside a pizza restaurant in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, where he works. “To face his wife, he paid already. I feel sorry for him.”
Pressure on Mr. Weiner to leave the House has been building for days, with top House Democrats, including Ms. Pelosi, the minority leader, coming forward over the weekend to urge him publicly to spare himself, his family and his party any more embarrassment.
But that pressure intensified earlier this week when President Obama publicly suggested that Mr. Weiner should step down and Ms. Pelosi told reporters that she was prepared to strip Mr. Weiner of his committee assignments if he did not leave.
At the same time, the House ethics committee had formally opened an inquiry into Mr. Weiner’s conduct, including trading private messages with a teenage girl in Delaware. The investigation raised the prospect that he would face formal charges and sanctions, including expulsion. But with his decision to resign, the investigation is expected to end, because the committee has jurisdiction only over the actions of members of Congress.
Michael Barbaro and Matt Flegenheimer contributed reporting.