NEW YORK (AP) — Disgraced former New York congressman Anthony Weiner is no predator and should be spared from prison at his sentencing for sexting with a 15-year-old North Carolina girl who dreamed about affecting the U.S. presidential election, his lawyers told a judge on Wednesday.
The submission in Manhattan federal court referenced “Anthony’s operatic self-destruction,” describing the crime as “the final act … born of deep sickness.” But it blamed the girl, saying she has told government investigators it had been a goal of hers to affect last year’s election.
The court filing included letters from Weiner and his estranged wife, Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, who appeared with him in state court earlier in the day at a divorce proceeding, looking more like a couple than not.
In a heavily blacked-out letter, Abedin wrote: “With Anthony, 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.”
The lawyers described Weiner, a once powerful Democrat, as having committed a crime, though “one far less egregious than any sexting case that has been prosecuted in this district.”
They said he never sought out teenagers on the internet and didn’t engage in other predatory behaviors typical of those arrested in similar cases.
“He responded to the victim’s request for sexually explicit messages not because she was a teenager but in spite of it,” the lawyers said.
The lawyers said Weiner had caught the eye of “a curious high school student, looking to generate material for a book the government has disclosed she is now shopping to publishers.” They said the girl documented their interactions from the outset, photographing her phone to preserve messages, before selling her story to a British tabloid for $30,000.
The lawyers said the investigation of Weiner was “quite improperly injected into the U.S. presidential election, quite possibly affecting its outcome.”
“After the election was over, the high school student told government investigators that this had been one of her goals from the outset,” Weiner’s lawyers wrote.
The girl told Inside Edition in an interview she knew that Clinton, a Democratic former U.S. secretary of state, senator and first lady, would be running for president last year.
“I wanted to see if Anthony was still up to the same antics,” she said.
In a letter to U.S. District Judge Denise Cote, who will sentence Weiner on Sept. 25, Weiner wrote that…