Former Democratic congressman Anthony Weiner asked for leniency Wednesday in sentencing for his exchange of sexually explicit online messages with a 15-year-old girl, regretting he helped torpedo his wife Huma Abedin's career.
In documents filed with a Manhattan federal court, Weiner's lawyers asked for probation mandating treatment and community service, portraying their client as an attention-driven "weak man" in a "self-destructive spiral" with a "sickness."
The New York Times reports:
The teenage girl first contacted Mr. Weiner on Jan. 23, 2016, and he "responded as a weak man, at the bottom of a self-destructive spiral, and with an addict’s self-serving delusion that the communications were all just internet fantasy — willfully ignoring that there was a young person at the other end of the connection, hundreds of miles away, who could be damaged by these exchanges through the ether," his lawyers wrote.
The teenager was looking for material for a book, which she has now written and is "shopping to publishers," the memo says.
She also told investigators that she hoped "somehow to influence the U.S. presidential election, in addition to securing personal profit," the memo says.
Recent Stories in Politics
But the lawyers assert that her efforts to induce Mr. Weiner "to behave badly" did not excuse his behavior, nor justify it.
His lawyers have stated Weiner is undergoing treatment for his sex addiction and a series of tests showed he has a "mixed personality disorder" stemming from childhood trauma. A prison sentence, they said, would bring his recovery to a halt.
Prosecutors are seeking a sentence of 21 to 27 months for a charge that carries a maximum of 10 years in prison. Weiner will be sentenced Sept. 25.
Weiner, in his own five-page letter to the court, lamented he had "crushed the aspirations" of his estranged wife, a top aide to 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
"My continued acting out over years crushed the aspirations of my wife and ruined our marriage," Weiner wrote. "I am so deeply sorry for the harm I have done to her, and I live with the sorrow that I will never be able to fix that."
He added, "My life isn’t big and loud anymore. Every day I quietly do what I can to keep getting better, and to fix the damage I’ve done."
Abedin and Weiner are in the midst of getting a divorce. They appeared together in divorce court on Wednesday.
In her own letter to the judge asking for him to be spared a prison sentence, Abedin described herself as "devastated" by his behavior.
"With Anthony," she wrote, "I have repeatedly found myself in circumstances I never imagined. I am devastated by Anthony’s actions, and I understand he must face their consequences."
Weiner pleaded guilty in May to a charge of transferring obscene material to a minor, ending a bizarre saga that negatively impacted his wife's boss.
Clinton is in the midst of promoting her 2016 election memoir, What Happened, and she has raged against then-FBI Director James Comey's letter to Congress last October announcing new developments in her private email server investigation.
During an investigation into Weiner's sexting with the underage girl, Comey testified later, the FBI discovered thousands of Clinton emails on Weiner's computer that were forwarded there by Abedin.
The original story on Weiner's relationship with the young girl was broken by Daily Mail reporter Alana Goodman, formerly of the Washington Free Beacon.
Clinton has called Comey's letter the reason she lost the election.
"Look, absent that, and I believe the evidence shows, I would have won," Clinton said on Wednesday.
The guilty plea marks the final fall from grace of Weiner, who resigned from Congress—after more than a decade serving New York's 9th district—in 2011 after revelations that he had sexted with numerous women.
He attempted a career comeback in 2013 when he ran for New York City mayor, but that bid collapsed after it came to light that his sexting behavior continued.