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Representative Anthony Weiner Resigns

Aired June 16, 2011 - 13:57   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much, Randi.

We're standing by, we'll hear from the congressman himself, although we do know he's notified top leaders in the House of Representatives, including the top Democratic leaders, including Nancy Pelosi, that he will announce he is resigning.

CNN's Dana Bash, our senior congressional correspondent, broke the news earlier today.

Dana, the reaction is coming in, although a lot of members are waiting to hear the words coming out of his mouth before they release their own immediate press releases and make statements of their own.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Certainly the leadership of the Democratic Party in the House and elsewhere is waiting to -- to hear from Anthony Weiner. But rank and file, people who know him, some friends and some people who just, you know, have worked with him for quite a long time, they are not waiting.

We are getting -- talking to several people, particularly those who serve with him from New York. Jerry Nadler has just said that he believes this is a loss and that he was really an articulate spokesman for the cause of many progressives in the House and in the Democratic Party.

Having said that, there's a sense of relief, big time, because we have been reporting for several weeks now that Democratic leaders thought that this was a distraction, that this was simply something that they wanted to go away and because of the drip, drip, drip of the story, more photographs coming out almost daily, it simply would not go away. So it was their pressure, their private pressure and ultimately public pressure that forced him out.

But I want you to listen to one of Anthony Weiner's colleagues from New Jersey, Bill Pascrell, about how he described what happened to him.

Take a listen.


QUESTION: Do you think he could have been able to survive had he been straightforward? REP. BILL PASCRELL (D), NEW JERSEY: Yes. If he came out very straightforward in the very beginning, as reprehensible and his actions and behavior admittedly were, I think that he could have survived this. I think that's the straw that broke the camel's back, and I think that we pray for his family. It's important.


BASH: And, Wolf, we're hearing that from a lot of Anthony Weiner's colleagues. The fact of it is it's not just that he sent these lewd photographs, and it certainly it seems like a lot of them, it's the fact that he did not answer questions at the beginning, did not tell the truth, said he was hacked and outright lied to people like you in interviews about this whole situation. That that really ultimately, politically is what hurt him.

BLITZER: Yes. He didn't just lie to me. He lied to you. He lied to everyone. He lied to all of his constituents and the American public when he suggested, when he flat out said that someone had hacked his Twitter account and sent out that lewd picture to that college student out in Seattle, Washington.

Dana, we're going to immediately go to the statement from Congressman Anthony Weiner as soon as he comes up to those microphones.

But I want to bring in John King, because he's looking at this.

John, all of us have watched this very, very closely, but you've got a perspective over there at the data wall for us.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we'll take you through the time line, and if the congressman walks into the room just interrupt and go straight to the live event. That obviously is the most important development today.

But let's go back in time. Why are we here today? It was on May 27th that sexually suggestive photo was sent by Anthony Weiner, a direct message on Twitter.

Now, remember, at that time, he said it was not him. He said the next day that his Twitter account was hacked and that somebody had sent that photo, not him.

Then you move forward a little bit in time to May 31st. That is when he had that first exchange. Dana Bash on Capitol Hill with our producer Ted Barrett, trying to get answers from Congressman Weiner, playing through, and he would not give them those answers that day up on Capitol Hill as you see that play out.

Then you move forward a little bit on our time line to June 1st -- Wolf, you remember this all that well. You were asking Congressman Weiner questions, was it him, did he send those photos. And repeatedly, he said he did not and that he had nothing to do with this and he was trying to figure it out. Fast forward now to June 6th -- that is when the congressman made his admission at a news conference that he, in fact, had sent these photographs, that he had inappropriate relationships with about a half dozen women online. He said he was embarrassed then, but he also said he would fight on.

It was on June 13th, the president of the United States that if he were Congressman Weiner, he would resign -- that in an interview with NBC News. You see the president there.

And, of course, now, we are here today and we are told by multiple sources that when the congressman walks into the room, he will decide he will announce that he is resigning his seat in the Congress, Wolf.

Remember, at first, he was defiant. He said he was hacked. Then he said it was him, and he apologized, but said he wanted to fight on.

We are told now after days of pressure from the Democratic leadership, after conversations with his wife, that Anthony Weiner just a few moments from now will say he is resigning his seat in Congress, leaving politics at least for now.

BLITZER: And a lot of viewers will no doubt want to see if his wife, Huma Abedin, if she's standing at his side at this press conference or not. We'll stand by and see if she's there, John. Don't go too far away.

Jeffrey Toobin is our senior legal analyst. He's joining us.

Jeff, is there any evidence at all, any suspicion at all that any criminal activity, any criminal wrongdoing occurred here other than a lot of stupid activity?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST (via telephone): None at all that I'm aware of. I mean, I think, as you say, this is stupid. It's embarrassing. It is not surprisingly leading to the end of his political career.

But in terms of criminal behavior or even the possibility of any sort of a civil lawsuit, I don't see it. I think he is able -- he will be able to try to start his life anew, just in another line of work.

BLITZER: The investigation from the House Ethics Committee that Nancy Pelosi asked for, now that he's resigning from Congress, do you know what happens with that investigation? Is it simply over with, or do the members continue?

TOOBIN: No, it ends, as far as I'm aware. The ethics committee only has jurisdiction over sitting members of Congress. So, once he leaves, that investigation is over.

And even if that investigation were to go forward, the kind of remedies they can suggest are sanctions like a censure or removal from the House, which would be moot in any case since he'd be gone by then. BLITZER: He will still be eligible though for his pension as a former member of Congress, even though he's resigning under disgrace. I don't know if you know the law about that, but I assume he will still be able to collect his pension. He's been, what, 13 years a member of the House of Representatives?

TOOBIN: Oh, very much so. I mean, that actually often comes up in these congressional sex scandals is that if a member of Congress resigns and there is no criminal activity, this member gets to keep his pension. There's no doubt about that.

BLITZER: And he does have other money available for political purposes. We did some check, and just wrote about this on my blog, on our Web site -- I don't know if it's been posted yet. But he has about $4.5 million in cash that's available to him, that's money he collected to run for mayor of New York, and another $350,000 left over from his previous congressional campaign.

Now, there's specific regulations how he can use that money. He's supposed to use it for political purposes. He can return it to those who contributed to him or he can give it to charity, but he has almost $5 million in political money, Jeff.

I think we just lost Jeff. Let me bring in, John King.

That's money. If he wants to make -- hold on a second. That's not him.

John, if he wants to make a political comeback, a year, two years, five years down the road, he can save that money, just keep in the bank, almost $5 million, and use it for a second chance, if you will.

KING: He can. And people will ask questions. Maybe he'll get asked today, what are you going to do with the money? I think he certainly will be asked, do you plan on returning to politics?

If we were having a conversation about Anthony Weiner three months ago, we would be saying he was considered a favorite, if not the favorite to be the next mayor of New York.

You know him, Wolf. He is scrappy. He is ambitious. He is abrasive, which is one of the reasons he has few friends at the moment after the scandal.

But now that he has that built up amount of money, the question is, will he take some time off, will he do something to try to rehabilitate his image, and whether it's a return to Congress or return to some office in New York City or New York state, that will be a question. Obviously, he has a personal situation to deal with right now with his family.

Politically, he will give up his seat today. But he's 46 years old, an ambitious man. Stranger things have happened in politics.

BLITZER: Yes, I wouldn't rule out a second chance. Dana, I don't know what you're hearing up about any political ambitions he might have. Right now, he's got a lot of other serious issues he's got to deal with, with his family, his friends, his constituency, and himself -- he says he's been in treatment. He's trying to fix the problems that he's had. But almost $5 million in campaign cash that if he wants to someday will be available and he will continue. He will obviously get that congressional pension, assuming he announces his resignation in the next few minutes.

BASH: That's right. And, you know, everybody in this country loves a comeback story. So -- and his colleagues are also saying, Wolf, even as we speak, they are telling our colleagues, like Deirdre Walsh, right off the House floor, don't count him out in the future.

Right now, he's got to take time. He's got to go get himself help. He's got to go and deal with his family, with his wife and everything else. But they are saying, you know, don't rule him out.

It's interesting because I think part of the issue with Anthony Weiner is that he didn't have a huge reservoir of goodwill here on Capitol Hill. He certainly was well known to those of us watch television a lot because he was on a lot. He was a very sort of bombastic spokesman for his causes, for progressive causes.

But he, you know, to be honest with you, rubbed a lot of his colleagues the wrong way with how aggressive he was, and some of them actually told me he did a lot of grandstanding. So, that actually did not help him at the end of the day when he was reaching out, for a long time, it's important to underscore, for -- this has been going on for three weeks, for first two and a half or so, he was making clear to his colleagues that he believed that it was important for him to stay. He was dug in, as one of his colleagues who I spoke to, who actually talked to him said to me.

But it was just the pressure that was mounting and the fact that so much kept coming out. It wasn't just one photo. It was many photos and then there were reports of the actual text of what he was saying back and forth with some of the women that he was corresponding with. It was the drip, drip, drip. That's what really pushed his leadership over the edge and, again, the fact that he didn't have the greatest relationship with them didn't help.

BLITZER: We don't know, Dana, and maybe you do, but I don't know, whether his wife Huma Abedin, who works for the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whether she will be standing by his side in the news conference or even in the same room. Do we have any idea?

BASH: I will tell you there are no indications that she will be there. Let's put it that way.

She -- we know that she did -- according to our Jason Carroll who's outside Anthony Weiner's home in New York -- she did come back to his home with him, but when he left for this press conference, we assume he's on his way now, she wasn't with him. And for those who know her, I don't think that that's a big surprise.

BLITZER: He just came back with the secretary from a trip to the United Arab Emirates and Africa, just arriving, I think, yesterday.

Dana, stand by. John King, stand by.

We'll take a quick break. We're awaiting his arrival in Brooklyn for this news conference, the resignation of Anthony Weiner, coming up.


BLITZER: All right. We expect within the next minute or two, maybe a little bit longer, but we're waiting for Anthony Weiner to walk through that door, go up to the microphones and announce that he is resigning from the U.S. House of Representatives after 13 years here in Washington.

As soon as he goes through the door, we'll, of course, have his statement and news conference. We assume he's going to answer reporter's questions as well. A dramatic, indeed.

CNN's Mary Snow is inside. She's joining us on the phone right now.

Mary, give us a little flavor of what's going on in that room in Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn, at that senior citizens center.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it is jam-packed in here.

You know, we were at the news conference 10 days ago when Anthony Weiner came out and said that he had lied. And I thought that was packed, but this is even more so. There are just dozens of cameras in this room and more than 100 reporters easily.

There are also -- we're sitting in a room in the senior center, and there are also senior citizens who have come waiting to hear for Anthony Weiner. And we're told that senior center has significant to him because he launched his political career really here two decades ago when he ran for city council.

Reporters have been lining up and photographers for hours to get into this building, and as you said, Dana was just reporting that CNN's Jason Carroll reported he left his home in Queens. It takes roughly about a half hour to 45 minutes to get here. So, everybody is just sitting here in this jam-packed room waiting for him to get to that podium.

BLITZER: Mary, have his aides told you that in addition to making a statement, he will then answer reporter questions as well?

SNOW: They have not said that. They have also not really answered the question of whether or not his wife will be with him when he gets here at the senior center in Brooklyn. It's unclear if he's going to take questions after this or just read a statement.

BLITZER: On the left part of the screen, you see the arrival area outside the senior center, the senior citizens center in Brooklyn. Apparently, his car has yet not arrived. But once we see the car arrives, he'll walk in and then eventually on the right-hand side of your screen, you can see that doorway where he'll walk into that room where all those cameras, all those reporters have gathered.

This is a very, very dramatic moment indeed. It's almost tragic, John, because as you've been pointing out, he was really the front- runner to become the next mayor of New York City after Michael Bloomberg.

KING: And you look at the scene, Wolf, there are 435 members of the House of Representatives, none of them can draw a media crowd like this unless it is something tragic and something sad and something scandalous, like this.

He was a rising star. Mary just mentioned, he was on the city council. He was a protege of Senator Chuck Schumer of New York. Someone who like Anthony Weiner can be combative and made a name for himself by sparring with Republicans.

Anthony Weiner tried to fall into that suit. Very combative, sometimes abrasive, drew a lot of fans. In fact, many of his conversations with these women online started after they saw him on television and reached out to compliment him, to follow him on Twitter or to go his Facebook site to say, you know, thanks for fighting the good fight when they would see him on the cable television interviews taking issue with the Republicans, defending the Democratic agenda.

And so, he did get a name for himself, not just in his district and in his city and in his state, but somewhat nationally for his high profile. And now, of course, along the way, he made some enemies within his own Democratic Caucus, or rubbed some people the wrong way, often critical of then Speaker Pelosi, saying that they didn't have a good communication strategy, they weren't fighting the fight right.

So, now, at a time when this probably would have forced him out anyway, but where if he had a deeper reservoir of goodwill with the leadership, maybe things may have gone a little differently, maybe he doesn't have that deep reservoir of support.

But he is ambitious. He is aggressive, and he will bow out today with a resignation. And as many of his colleagues and associates on Capitol Hill are saying, you know, this is closing one chapter, his congressional career, and closing it in a horrible, horrible way.

Will he come back? That's an open question.

BLITZER: New Yorkers are very forgiving and for the same reason, his abrasiveness, let's say, he was unpopular with many leaders here in Washington. He was very popular with his constituents. They liked the fact that he was seen as a fighter for them.

KING: And you're talking about Brooklyn, you're talking Queens, you're talking a lot of blue collar working class neighborhoods. They are scrappy people. They like somebody who stands up and fights for themselves and for the district and the city. He was involved in all of those funding, homeland security money after 9/11 for New York and things like that. So, look, this is a sad chapter. Most of what will happen is an important political story here.

He is resigning his seat in Congress. The governor will have to have a special election to replace him in Congress. That seat can be redrawn up in the redistricting part. That is all relevant, political -- important political drama, political news, political information.

He'll walk away from this podium today, Wolf, and he will have some personal things to deal with that will not be so much in the public domain. He's in the most rock 'n' roll media environment in the country, so perhaps even after this, he will get a lot of attention and a lot of coverage. But most of what he'll have to deal with after he walks away today I think is best left to his private life and his family life.


KING: But it's an important political day. It's very important for the Democratic leadership because they wanted this distraction to end and end as quickly as possible. It would be very interesting to see just exactly what he chooses to say here, and whether he decides to stay in there and take questions.

BLITZER: It looks like they are getting ready for something, but I don't think he's arrived yet because you see on the left-hand side of the screen over there, that's where the car should pull up and he'll walk in. It won't take him very long to get out of the car and walk through the door and comes to the door on the right part of your screen, and then go into the news conference where the microphones are.

You know what? I'm going to go -- sneak in a quick break. We'll take a quick break right now. On the other side, we'll await the arrival of Congressman Anthony Weiner and his resignation speech.


BLITZER: We're told that Anthony Weiner, the congressman from New York, will be walking through that door very, very soon. Maybe this is him. There he is right now. He's going up to the microphones to announce his resignation.


REP. ANTHONY WEINER (D), NEW YORK: Good afternoon.

About 20 years ago, I stood in this very same room here at the council center and asked my neighbors for their help to take a chance on me and electing me to the city council. Then some seven years later, I asked those same people to join with people in Queens in sending me to Congress.

There is no higher honor in a democracy than being sent by your neighbors to represent them in the United States House of Representatives.

It is particularly humbling to represent this district because the communities and families of the ninth congressional district are hard working. They are patriotic. They are opinionated. They are authentic.

I have never forgotten my neighbors because they represent the same middle class story as mine. I went to public schools my whole life. My mother was a schoolteacher for 32 years. My father went to law school on a G.I. bill.

The middle class story of New York is my story, and I'm very proud of that.

I'm here today to again apologize for the personal mistakes I have made and the embarrassment I have caused. I make this apology to my neighbors and my constituents, but I make it particularly to my wife Huma.

I 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. Unfortunately, the distraction that I have created has made that impossible.

So, today, I'm announcing my resignation from Congress.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Goodbye, pervert!

WEINER: So my colleagues can get back to work, my neighbors can choose a new representative, and more importantly, that my wife and I can continue to heal from the damage I have caused.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's not with us. Throw him out. He's not with us.

WEINER: To repeat, most importantly -- most importantly, so that I can continue to heal from the damage that I have caused.

I want to thank my colleagues in the House of Representatives, Democrats and Republicans alike. They come from different places around the country, but fundamentally, we all agree. They are all patriots and I will miss them all.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you more than seven inches?


WEINER: Thank you.

I also want to express my gratitude to members of my staff. They are young people who are not paid very much. They are people who work very hard and very long hours. Ultimately, those people define the notion of service.

I want to thank, of course, the many people who have helped me, the people who have volunteered, the people who have given my advice. The many of my constituents who have offered me good ideas.

And, of course, I want to express my gratitude to my family. To my mother and father who instilled in me the values that carried me this far, to my brother Jason and, of course, to my wife Huma who has stood with me through this entire difficult period and to whom I owe so very much.

I got into politics to help give voice to the many who simply did not have one. Now, I'll be looking for other ways to contribute my talents, to make sure that we live up to that most New York and American of ideals -- the idea that leaving a family, a community and, ultimately, a country is the one thing that all unites us, the one thing we're all focused on.

With God's help and with hard work, we will all be successful. Thank you and good afternoon.

BLITZER: So, there you have it. He spoke for almost exactly four minutes, answering no questions, apologizing once again, formally announcing he's resigning as a United States member of the House of Representatives, Anthony Weiner. Didn't break down and cry. He got a little bit emotional.

You heard one heckler in the back screaming out, not unusual in this kind of situation.

But explaining first and foremost that he apologized to his wife Huma. They have been married for exactly -- a little bit less than one year, and as all of our viewers may now know, she's also is pregnant with their first child.

John King, you were just watching, together with all of the other viewers who are out there. You know, a lot of us thought he was just going to issue a statement on paper. He came out and made the statement to his constituents and to all of us, but he didn't stick around for questions which was probably smart.

KING: Probably smart for him. You could tell that was a feisty room. There was at least one non-journalist in there who came just to make a statement.

And as sad as his chapter is, and whatever your opinion of Anthony Weiner at home, he should have been able to deliver his statement without being interrupted. He deserves a common courtesy of that. However, that didn't happen.

It's interesting, he made the point, Wolf, and people will say, why he did not just put out a paper statement, why he did not, you know, email out a statement, why did he want to do this to camera? Some will say that's smart. Some will say that's not so smart.

The fact that he said, "Here in this senior citizens center is where I began my political career," I think some will take from that that he's trying to close a circle and close this chapter and say he's done with his congressional career. He did say he wants to find ways to continue to contribute, that he hoped he'd be forgiven by his constituents.

You know, are there seeds of a potential Anthony Weiner comeback in that? I think, you know, sure, can you make that conclusion if that's where you want to go. I think, today, though, his main point you mentioned, at the beginning and the end, he apologized again to his wife, but thanked her for standing by him.

Of course, we have not seen her with him. When he's done this news conference, he's been solo. But now, that's his challenge now that he's out of that room and he's no longer a member of Congress, is to deal with his life, to deal with life. And then we'll see if there's a future in politics.

BLITZER: Dana Bash, our senior congressional correspondent, is up on Capitol Hill.

Dana, you broke the news this morning that he had made that final decision to resign. That he had phoned the former House speaker, the Democratic minority in the House, Nancy Pelosi, last night; Steve Israel, his good friend, another congressman from New York, with his decision that would be announced today.

To me, just reading the body language, hearing what he had to say, I would by no means rule out at some point down the road, maybe a year from now, five years from now, Anthony Weiner, it's in his blood, he might seek political office once again.

BASH: I don't think anybody should rule that out. I think you're exactly right.

What's really striking also and watching this press conference where he formally announced that he was resigning, the difference between this and the press conference that he had a week ago, Monday, where he actually finally came out and admitted that he was the one who sent these pictures of himself, some very lewd pictures that he originally said he did not sent, and that he was hacked -- how emotional he was at that time, how choked up he was at that time.

And, you know, after that, Wolf, I'm told by several sources who spoke to him throughout the past couple of weeks, he was like that privately on the phone, trying to plead with his colleagues, trying to plead with his friends to give him some space, to apologize, very, very, very emotional -- in a state of despair I was told, even turbulent.

But I'm told that when he made the call late yesterday to Democrat leaders, that had changed, and that he was much more composed, resolved and that -- after he had actually made the decision to go ahead and resign, that was the Anthony Weiner we just saw in this press conference, very different.

He -- you know, I'm not sure that he's at peace with his decision, but he obviously realizes he had to make it, and at least publicly now, his emotional state seems to be different.

BLITZER: Yes, it certainly does. Dana, stand by. John, stand by.

I want to take a break. The reaction is beginning to pour in already. We'll update you on what's going on. The fallout from Anthony Weiner's resignation, much more coming up right after this.


BLITZER: He was elected to Congress in 1998. Now, 13 years later, he's no longer a member of the House of Representatives. Anthony Weiner, the Congressman from New York, has just resigned.

CNN's Mary Snow is there in Brooklyn at that senior citizens center. It got sort of ugly at one point. He only delivered about a four-minute statement, Mary, but at one point some hecklers started screaming at him. What happened?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And Wolf, it was hard for me to hear at certain points what Anthony Weiner was saying. At several points, a heckler stood up and you know, Anthony Weiner had supporters here in this room, a number of seniors were sitting, waiting for him to came in and they were booed this heckler, but he kept going on. And if you remember, the same thing that happened 10 days ago when he had this news conference, there a heckler there. I believe it was the same person.

So, he didn't stop, he didn't acknowledge the person. He just kept going. But it did get pretty angry where people were telling him to shut up basically, and eventually the police came in and escorted him away. But it was so short, the statement, that it was over, and, you know, a lot of people were standing up, like wondering what happened. A very sad end.

BLITZER: You were saying, Mary, that some of the seniors there were actually supporting him and were expressing their sadness that he was stepping down?

SNOW: Exactly, and, you know, this room, this center has significance for him, as we just pointed out. He launched his political career here when he ran for city council, and he said he came back when he ran for Congress. So, you know, this had meaning for him and a number of seniors. He's been very popular in this distribute.

We talked to a couple of people today who say they wanted him to say, but they said they felt he couldn't stay. He had no choice but to step down. And they questioned his effectiveness, but they said he was very sorry to see him go.

BLITZER: He was only 26 years old, exactly 20 years ago when he was elected to that city council in New York. Twenty years later now, he's giving up politics, at least for now.

Mary, stand by. Jeffrey Toobin is with us. Jeffrey, you're a longtime observer of New York politics. You live in New York. Did you sense, as I did, that he was perhaps thinking down the road he could make a political comeback at some point, assuming he gets his personal life straightened out?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST (on the phone): Well, I think like most politicians, he was keeping his options open. I mean, my experience with politicians is ambition dies when they do, so he's got -- he's a young man. Only 46 years old.

But, you know, I think that is really off in the future, if at all. You know, the other factor as a New Yorker that I would just like to point out that this district, unlike a lot of other congressional districts in this area, is not an overwhelmingly Democratic district. There are many districts in New York City where the Democrat wins 80 percent, 90 percent of the vote. But against token opposition, Anthony Weiner only won 60 percent of the vote in 2010, and it is not inconceivable that a well-financed Republican challenge could make this a very competitive race in the special election that Governor Cuomo has to call in the next 70 or 80 days.

So the Democrats have to be careful, that they have to nominate someone who is a good candidate because this is not an automatic seat for the Democrats.

BLITZER: That's a good point. It's not even an automatic seat given the fact that New York state is losing two seats in the next election because of its population decline. Some of the population growth in some of the Southern states. This is one of those districts that could simply be eliminated. There's going to be a big fight in Albany involving that.

Everyone, stand by. We'll take another quick break, and our continuing coverage right after this.


BLITZER: Anthony Weiner is now a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He's announced his resignation after that scandal involving sexting, as it's called. The reaction coming in. Let's bring in our senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash. What are you getting there, Dana?

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A mixture of sadness and relief, I think, is probably the best way to summarize the reaction we're getting, particularly from the Democratic leadership. Anthony Weiner's fellow Democrats.

John Larson, who is the chairman of the Democratic caucus in the House, said, "It's difficult to watch the self-destruction of a friend and watch the witness of the breaking of hearts over what can only be categorized as reprehensible behavior and bad judgment." Now, Larson is someone who did not publicly say that Weiner should resign. He said it was up to constituents, but many, many of the other Democratic leaders and rank and file did say so.

And Steve Israel is a friend and a colleague of Anthony Weiner's from New York. He is also in charge of getting Democrats elected in 2012. He was, I think, a bit more pointed in his statement. He said that "it's right for him and his family because there's a lot of work to do in Congress," and it talked about Medicare and Social Security and some of the issues that Democrats really felt that they were getting some traction on, Wolf. And getting back on their feet politically until this Anthony Weiner scandal broke.

And so that is a big reason and big indication, an illustration of why Democrats were so ultimately eager for him to just go so that they could move on and talk about what was politically beneficial, not politically scandalous.

BLITZER: And Dana broke the story for all of our viewers earlier this morning. Dana, thanks very much.

John King is here with us. A huge, collective sigh of relief coming in from Democrats now. They think this is over with. Now they can go on. Go on the offensive and start resuming their attacks on Republicans, shall we say, on Medicare.

KING: On Medicare, on priorities, on spending cuts. The Democrats, as Dana noted, thought they were gaining ground, getting some traction on the Medicare budget argument. And the timing is important, not just for the votes and the budget, but Steve Israel is recruiting candidates all across the country. Nancy Pelosi believes she can win the speaker's gavel back in the 2012 cycle. It's not just a presidential election; you'll have all the House seats back in play.

And so imagine you're Steve Israel and you're trying to recruit Wolf Blitzer to run for Congress. And Wolf Blitzer maybe has a great job in the state legislature. Maybe he's a mayor somewhere, and he thinks, do I want to run in this environment? Well, if Steve Israel can say look, we're making ground on Medicare, we'll get them on the budget, we're on offense right now, we're doing good, that's a pretty good case to make.

If you go into that meeting and the person says, am I going to be asked about Anthony Weiner if I do this? Is this still going to be out there? Is he going to stay in Congress? It makes somebody reluctant. So, it was more than a distraction in Washington, it was a distraction around the country when they have a ltio of important political business to do to build for 2012.

BLITZER: Because if you're going to be a member of the House of Representatives, it's a lot more fun to be in the majority as opposed to the minority.

KING: It certainly is.

BLITZER: John is going to be with us throughout the rest of the day. Dana will be with us.

Our coverage will continue here in the CNN NEWSROOM with Randi Kaye, right after this. And I'll see you at 5 p.m. Eastern in "THE SITUATION ROOM."