WASHINGTON - (AP) - President Barack Obama, increasing pressure onRep. Anthony Weiner to quit, said Monday that "I can tell you thatif it was me, I would resign."
In a rare foray into a congressman's ethical conduct, Obama toldNBC's "Today" show that Weiner's sexually charged photos andmessages online to several women was "highly inappropriate."
"I think he's embarrassed himself. He's acknowledged that. He'sembarrassed his wife and his family. Ultimately, there's gonna be adecision for him and is constituents. I can tell you that, if itwas me, I would resign," the president said in an interview to airTuesday morning.
Obama said public service "is exactly that, it's a service tothe public. And when you get to the point where, because of variouspersonal distractions, you can't serve as effectively as you needto at the time when people are worrying about jobs, and theirmortgages, and paying the bills, then you should probably stepback."
Weiner spokeswoman Risa Heller had no comment on Obama'sremarks.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has called for Weiner toquit, as have several other Democrats including party chairwomanDebbie Wasserman Schultz.
The House Ethics Committee on Monday began a preliminary inquirythat could bloom into a full investigation if Weiner, a New YorkDemocrat, ignores calls to resign.
House officials told The Associated Press that the ethicsinquiry is not yet extensive, and committee leaders have notindicated whether they will order a more intensive staffinvestigation. The officials requested anonymity because thecommittee has not announced the staff inquiry.
If Weiner did resign, the committee would no longer havejurisdiction to investigate him. If he remained in Congress, EthicsCommittee Chairman Jo Bonner of Alabama and ranking Democrat LindaSanchez of California could name a four-member subcommittee toconduct a more thorough investigation. That could lead to an ethicstrial.
The Ethics Committee is not designed as a quick-reaction forcewhen a scandal erupts. An investigation could last months, evenlonger, if the case became legally complicated and Weiner decidedto mount a full defense.
If the committee decides that a member violated the rules, itsoptions include issuing a written rebuke, recommending the Housevote to censure the lawmaker or recommending expelling the memberby a two-thirds majority.
Congress returned to work Monday as Weiner began a leave ofabsence while seeking treatment for an undisclosed disorder at anundisclosed location. House members can seek leaves of absence,which are routinely granted, and the House approved withoutobjection a two-week leave for Weiner at the close of legislativebusiness Monday night.
King: It's up to Weiner to decide if he should quitCongressional colleagues call for Weiner to resignMore lewd images of Rep. Weiner may exist