In an ominous sign for Rep. Anthony Weiner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid refused to offer his support for the seven-term New York Democrat who is now embroiled in a digital sex scandal and is the subject of an ethics investigation formally requested by House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday.
"I know Congressman Weiner. I wish I could defend him, but I cannot," Reid told reporters.
The Nevada Democrat sidestepped direct questions about whether or not the congressman should resign, but the message was clear. "I'm not here to defend Weiner," Reid said, stone-faced.
Rep. Weiner has received very little public support since divulging on Monday that he had sent lewd pictures to and engaged in sexually-explicit messaging with at least six women, though his mentor and former boss, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, is standing by his side.
"I am deeply pained and saddened by today's news. By fully explaining himself, apologizing to all he hurt and taking full responsibility for his wrongful actions, Anthony did the right thing. He remains a talented and committed public servant, and I pray he and his family can get through these difficult times," Schumer said in a statement released by his office Monday night.
But the lack of support from his colleagues, otherwise, is significant. The bombastic New York congressman is known for his hard-charging style, winning him few friends on Capitol Hill, a fact that could prove fatal as the scandal remains in the headlines. Democrats know it is a distraction from their agenda.
And Reid made it clear he has no interest in helping the embattled lawmaker. The coup de grace came when the Senate leader was asked if Weiner were to call for some advice, what would Reid say. "Call somebody else."