ALBANY -- The scandal surrounding Rep. Anthony Weiner took surprising turns Wednesday with the release of an X-rated photo, purportedly of the congressman, and a report that he and his wife were expecting their first child.
After the photo surfaced on the Internet, pressure for Weiner to resign ratcheted up when a Pennsylvania congresswoman -- and key campaign strategist -- became the first fellow Democrat to call on him to step down. Other Democrats soon followed.
Meanwhile, The New York Times reported that Weiner, 46, and his wife, Huma Abedin, 35, had told close friends that she was in the early stages of pregnancy. Abedin, a senior adviser to Hillary Rodham Clinton, was on a trip to North Africa on Wednesday with the secretary of state.
On Monday, Weiner tearfully acknowledged at a news conference that he had lied repeatedly when he denied posting a lewd photo of himself on Twitter and engaging in suggestive online relationships, including photos and messages, with six women. He said his wife of less than a year was "very unhappy" with him, but that they would remain together.
The X-rated photo that was said to be of Weiner hit the Internet after conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart showed it during an interview with Sirius/XM shock jocks Opie and Anthony, who took a photo of the image and posted it on Twitter, according to Gawker.com. Breitbart had said this week that he would not publicize the photo out of concern for Weiner's family.
Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa.), a leading official at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said the Queens representative should leave office for sending a lewd photo of himself to a woman via Twitter.
"Having the respect of your constituents is fundamental for a member of Congress," Schwartz said in a statement.
Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) and Rep. Michael Michaud (D-Maine) also called on Weiner to resign, as did Tim Kaine, a former Democratic National Committee chairman and current Senate candidate in Virginia. Kaine said Weiner's lies -- he first claimed a computer hacker had sent out the lewd photo -- disqualify him.
"Lying is unforgivable," Kaine told WCAV-TV in Charlottesville, Va.
Weiner has insisted he'll remain in office -- prompting some Democrats to speculate that only the urging of Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi or Sen. Charles Schumer (Weiner's former boss) could get him to step down. Others say Weiner's fate hinges on a House Ethics Committee investigation -- requested by Pelosi.
Weiner began calling colleagues to apologize for his behavior. He reached out to Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-Brooklyn), among others, a Towns spokesman confirmed. But the Brooklyn congressman wouldn't say whether Weiner should resign.
"I respect Congressman Weiner's honesty and integrity," Towns said in a statement. "I am aware that there may be calls for his resignation; however, I feel that is a personal matter between the Congressman and his family."
Names of possible candidates to run for Weiner's seat have already begun to circulate in Democratic circles, including Assemb. Rory Lancman, New York Councilman Mark Weprin and Melinda Katz, a former state assemblywoman who lost in a primary to Weiner in 1998 when the two were vying to fill Schumer's former congressional seat.
A top consultant to Democrats said it's not surprising that fellow party members are distancing themselves from Weiner. "Even before this, he was not well-liked," George Arzt said. "He was abrasive. He had tantrums. He was a headline hunter and it did not make him any friends. His behavior has always been out of sync with someone holding his position."