NEW YORK — Defiant and combative no longer, New York Rep. Anthony Weiner soberly resigned from Congress on Thursday, bowing to the furor caused by his sexually charged online dalliances with a former porn actress and other women.
Known as brash, liberal and ambitious, Weiner, 46, had run for mayor of New York in 2005 and had been expected to do so again. He was in his seventh term in Congress.
At an appearance in Brooklyn that drew hecklers as well as supporters, Weiner apologized "for the personal mistakes I have made and the embarrassment I have caused," particularly to his wife, Huma Abedin.
"I am announcing my resignation from Congress, so my colleagues can get back to work, my neighbors can choose a new representative and most important so that my wife and I can continue to heal from the damage I have caused," Weiner said.
He made the decision to quit after long and emotional discussions with his political advisers and Abedin, whom friends described as devastated by the behavior of her husband of 11 months.
His four-minute news conference at a senior center was chaotic. Weiner strained to be heard as a small group of hecklers hollered vulgar questions at him and called him a "pervert" while puzzled elderly residents watched.
After recounting the beginning of his political career and proclaiming that there is "no higher honor" than to represent one's neighbors, he said he initially hoped to continue his work but then realized "the distraction that I have created has made that impossible." With that, he apologized and resigned.
The seniors, many of them former supporters, groaned. Some in the room cheered. One man yelled out:
Another began to shout questions about the congressman's genitals. The din in the room reached a crescendo as dozens of cameras pivoted, reporters gasped and some of the seniors shouted for the man to sit down. Weiner grew slightly flushed but continued speaking. A police officer approached and told him to quiet down for the remainder of Weiner's remarks.
As the congressman left the podium, the loud heckler bellowed: "Will you maintain your hot physique and your smooth sexy chest?"
The circus-like distraction had overshadowed the main event. The man behind it turned out to be a writer for the Howard Stern Show named Benjy Bronk.
Abedin, an aide to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, was with Weiner at his Queens apartment as he prepared to make his statement, but did not appear at his side at the event.
Democratic Party leaders, concerned that Weiner could weigh the party down in the 2012 elections, had welcomed the announcement after days spent trying to coax, push and finally coerce him into quitting.
"Congressman Weiner exercised poor judgment in his actions and poor judgment in his reaction to the revelations," House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement. "Today, he made the right judgment in resigning."
Information from the Associated Press and the New York Times was used in this report.