Talking to Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus on Wednesday's NBC Today, outgoing co-host Meredith Vieira questioned calls for disgraced Congressman Anthony Weiner to resign: "Nancy Pelosi has formally asked the Ethics Committee to look into this. So why not just let them do their job and then let the chips fall where they may?"
Priebus replied: "I don't think we need to spend taxpayer dollars investigating whether or not Anthony Weiner's a creep or not." Vieira continued to brush aside talk of resignation: "...[Weiner] has said he does not believe he has broken any rules, he has no intention of resigning, it's up to the people, his constituents, to decide whether he should leave or not."
Vieira went further, citing a recent NY1/Marist poll of New York City residents: "And if you look at that poll that came out, more than half of them feel that he should stay in office, at least for now. So shouldn't they be the one's to decide his fate?"
In a report prior to the discussion with Priebus, congressional correspondent Luke Russert touted the poll findings: "51% of New Yorkers think he should keep his job, while only 30% believe he should resign." Man-on-the-street sound bites were played, with one man arguing, "I don't see anything that really affects his job performance in any way," and a woman pleading, "He does a good job. Let him do his job."
A SurveyUSA poll of New York City residents found that only 41% wanted Weiner to remain in office, while 46% thought he should resign.
Continuing her interview with Priebus, Vieira pointed out GOP congressional scandals: "...if you look at your own party fairly, there have been people, Republicans have been involved in sex scandals who have not gone quietly into that night. People like Louisiana Senator David Vitter...Nevada Senator John Ensign...Senator Larry Craig." She concluded: "They didn't go quickly, so why should Congressman Weiner?"
Here is a full transcript of the June 8 segment:
7:00AM ET TEASE:
MATT LAUER: Will he step down? Calls for Anthony Weiner's immediate resignation intensify on Capitol Hill as startling new details emerge about his secret life online.
7:05AM ET SEGMENT:
MEREDITH VIEIRA: Anthony Weiner is feeling growing pressure from Republicans to resign in the wake of his sexting scandal. This as fellow Democrats distance themselves from the New York Congressman. NBC's Luke Russert has been following this story since it first broke. Luke, good morning.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Weiner Under Fire; Did Congressman Break House Rules?]
LUKE RUSSERT: Good morning, Meredith. After holding a press conference on Monday where he admitted he sent a lewd photograph over Twitter, Congressman Anthony Weiner just could not catch a break.
ANTHONY WEINER: I have engaged in several inappropriate conversations.
RUSSERT: It's not getting any easier for Anthony Weiner. Republicans say he should step down.
ERIC CANTOR: [REP. R-VA]: I don't condone his activity. I think he should resign.
RUSSERT: Democrats aren't helping him either.
HARRY REID [SEN. D-NV]: I know Congressman Weiner. I wish there was some way I can defend him, but I can't.
RUSSERT: Even fellow New Yorker Donald Trump took a shot.
DONALD TRUMP: Anthony Weiner is a bad guy. He's a psycho.
GINGER LEE: My name is Ginger Lee and I'm 23 and I'm from Nashville, Tennessee.
RUSSERT: And on Tuesday, TMZ.com reported Weiner traded scores of sexual e-mails over a long period of time with this woman, a former adult film star who spoke about her computer habits in this 2006 interview.
LEE: I'm one of those people that I'm like, 'Has anybody messaged me? Let me see if anybody's messaged me. Somebody might have messaged me.' And half the time if they don't I'm like, 'Crap, I'm a dork!'
RUSSERT: According to TMZ, when the scandal first broke last week, Weiner offered to coach Lee on how to handle the media.
MIKE WALTERS [TMZ]: She is complaining to him over email about how the media's bombarding her. Calling, going by her house, cameras are showing up, calling her family members, stuff like that. She is upset about it and asking him. And he basically says, 'Look, do you need PR advice?' And he says, 'I can have someone from my team call you.'
RUSSERT: When asked to comment, Weiner's office sent this response to NBC News, quote, 'He is fully cooperating with a House ethics inquiry, and that will be the appropriate place for any further questions to be addressed.' Legal experts say Weiner could be in trouble for violating House rules.
ROB WALKER [FORMER COUNSEL, HOUSE ETHICS COMMITTEE]: If House resources were used in this kind of sexual contact he could face concerns or problems under the code of conduct of the House, which directs members to behave in a manner which shall reflect creditably on the House.
RUSSERT: But a New York One/Marist poll conducted Monday night after Weiner revealed that he had inappropriate contact over the phone and internet with six women shows 51% of New Yorkers think he should keep his job, while only 30% believe he should resign.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I don't see anything that really affects his job performance in any way.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Does it offend you as a voter?
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN A: It offends me a little bit.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN B: He does a good job. Let him do his job.
RUSSERT: And Meredith, Weiner's wife, Huma Abedin, who said she will be by his side throughout this whole ordeal, well, she literally won't be as she left this morning with her boss, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on a seven-day diplomatic trip to the Middle East and Africa. And Meredith, as a point of personal privilege, God speed. I will miss you personally.
VIEIRA: Oh, Luke, thank you so much. Luke Russert, reporting for us this morning. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus is calling on Congressman Weiner to resign. Mr. Chairman, good morning to you.
REINCE PRIEBUS: Hey, good morning, Meredith. And first off, you know, all of God's blessings to you moving forward.
VIEIRA: Thank you so much.
PRIEBUS: You bet.
VIEIRA: At least you didn't call on me to resign. Thank you very much, Reince. But you were one of the first to call on the Congressman to step down, saying, 'We do not need an investigation to know he lied and acted inappropriately. We need a resignation.' Nancy Pelosi has formally asked the Ethics Committee to look into this. So why not just let them do their job and then let the chips fall where they may?
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Weiner Under Fire; Should Congressman Be Forced to Resign?]
PRIEBUS: Well, I think part of their job is, Meredith, that Nancy Pelosi needs do her job and be a leader of her caucus and tell Anthony Weiner to really hit the bricks and go home. I don't think – here's the problem – I don't think we need to spend taxpayer dollars investigating whether or not Anthony Weiner's a creep or not. Nancy Pelosi, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, who's Obama's hand-picked leader of the Democratic Party, ought to sit down with him and tell him that he needs to leave. I mean, that's what the American people expect.
VIEIRA: But my understanding is that they cannot force him to resign. And he has said he does not believe he has broken any rules, he has no intention of resigning, it's up to the people, his constituents, to decide whether he should leave or not. And if you look at that poll that came out, more than half of them feel that he should stay in office, at least for now. So shouldn't they be the one's to decide his fate?
PRIEBUS: I think that the leaders of the caucus, I think the leaders of the Democratic Party, ought to talk to Anthony Weiner and tell him that he needs to go. Here's the problem. Like I said before, an Ethics Committee investigation on whether this guy was right or wrong or, you know, sending pictures of his private parts around the world is not fitting of a United States congressman. And I think that leaders of the Democratic Party, Nancy Pelosi and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, should ask him to resign. Look, it seems like the only job that these guys are willing to fight for, willing to try to save, is Anthony Weiner's job. I mean, why are they defending this guy?
VIEIRA: Well, if you look at some of the Democrats, it certainly appears that they have turned on him.
PRIEBUS: Well, I mean, turned on him by opening up a House ethics investigation? I mean, we know what happened. It's all over the internet. You reported on more information that came out last night. This is just going to be – here's what's going to happen. This is going to be a slow drip, drip, drip type story and within a couple weeks, my guess is he's going to have to resign because it's going to be such a distraction to the folks here and especially even – I would say even the leaders of the Democratic Party – that he's going to have to resign. So they should do the right thing, and they should speak up and say, 'Look, this guy should resign. He should leave.' We need – we've got a lot of work to do. We've got record unemployment, we've got an economy, Meredith, that's in the ditch. And we've got a president and leaders of the Democratic Party that would rather whistle past the graveyard here.
VIEIRA: Yeah, but Reince, if you look at your own party fairly, there have been people, Republicans have been involved in sex scandals who have not gone quietly into that night. People like Louisiana Senator David Vitter tied to a prostitution ring several years ago. He still serves to this day. Nevada Senator John Ensign waited years to resign after admitting to an affair with a staffer. And then you have Senator Larry Craig who served out his term after he was accused of soliciting an undercover police officer. They didn't go quickly, so why should Congressman Weiner?
PRIEBUS: Well I don't think – first of all, I don't think two rights make – two wrongs make a right. And I'm not defending those folks, I'm the chairman of the Republican National Committee now, not years ago. And I think Nancy Pelosi should go. And you know, it took Chris Lee about 30 seconds to resign a couple months ago. And I think Nancy Pelosi and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz ought to do the right thing and ask this fellow to leave office and put someone else there that's more fitting to serve this country.
VIEIRA: You know, Reince, Congressman Weiner has a pretty sharp tongue. He has certainly criticized Republicans, gone on the attack against Republicans on the other side of the aisle in the past. Is there any level of satisfaction among those in you're party that he is finally getting his comeuppance?
PRIEBUS: No, I mean, certainly not from me, Meredith. I don't – I don't operate that way. I'm not – this has nothing to do with vindication or payback. This has to do with leadership in a Democratic Party that is silent on what I think is a very important leadership aspect from a leader like Nancy Pelosi, who said that she was going to 'drain the swamp.' I mean this was the promise she made to the American people and she's been silent on Anthony Weiner's resignation. I think it's outrageous.
VIEIRA: Alright, Reince Priebus, thank you so much for joining us this morning.
VIEIRA: Thank you, Meredith.