Obama urges sex texter Weiner to quit

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President Barack Obama has ramped up pressure on the Democratic congressman Anthony Weiner to step down, calling his internet sex scandal a distraction from the work that Washington needs to get done.

"I can tell you that if it was me, I would resign," Mr Obama told NBC News on Monday, shortly before the United States House of Representatives granted Mr Weiner a two-week leave of absence while the New York congressman gets professional treatment. Mr Weiner, 46, has defied calls from his own party to step down after his admission last week that he sent lewd images of himself to at least six women.

Mr Weiner's refusal to resign has angered Democrats, who say his inappropriate online exchanges with women have hurt the party ahead of next year's elections when it will seek to win back the House from Republicans. Mr Weiner said through an aide on the weekend that rather than immediately step down, he would seek a leave of absence and treatment at an undisclosed facility.

"Public service is exactly that, it's a service to the public," Mr Obama said. "When you get to the point where – because of various personal distractions, you can't serve as effectively as you need to at the time when people are worrying about jobs and their mortgages and paying the bills – then you should probably step back."