Lawyers for Anthony D. Weiner, the former Democratic congressman whose lewd text exchanges with a teenage girl led to his prosecution and embroiled him in an FBI investigation of Hillary Clinton before the presidential election, asked a judge Wednesday night to spare him a prison sentence.
In asking that Weiner receive probation, his lawyers described his behavior as “inexcusable,” but cited his “remarkable progress” over the past year.
Weiner, 53, writing separately to the judge, cited his “profound” regret for endangering the well-being of the girl, whom he understood to be 15.
He added, “My continued acting out over years crushed the aspirations of my wife and ruined our marriage.” And, he said, his young son “will forever have to answer questions about the public and private failings of his father.”
Weiner is to be sentenced on Sept. 25 by Judge Denise Cote of U.S. District Court in Manhattan on one count of transferring obscene material to a minor. He pleaded guilty in May; the charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years.
Prosecutors are expected to make their sentencing recommendation next week. The office of Joon H. Kim, the acting U.S. attorney in Manhattan, said in Weiner’s plea agreement that a sentence in the range of 21 to 27 months would be “fair and appropriate.”
The memo submitted by Weiner’s lawyers offers a deeply personal look at the history of Weiner’s behavior and his political and personal downfall. Weiner resigned from Congress in June 2011, not long after an explicit picture, sent from his Twitter account, surfaced.
The teenage girl first contacted 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.
But the lawyers assert that her efforts to induce Weiner “to behave badly” did not excuse his behavior, nor justify it.
Reports of the federal investigation into Weiner’s illicit texts surfaced a year ago after DailyMail.com reported that he had engaged in a lewd online relationship with the girl.
The FBI seized Weiner’s laptop and found a large trove of emails belonging to his now-estranged wife, Huma Abedin, a top aide to Clinton.
That discovery led to the surprise announcement in late October by the FBI director at the time, James B. Comey, that the bureau had opened a new inquiry into Clinton’s handling of official email, an investigation that ended two days before the election. In May, Clinton attributed her loss in part to the announcement by Comey.
In arguing for probation, Weiner’s lawyers, Arlo Devlin-Brown and Erin Monju, said that his offense had been the product of deep sickness, and that he was finally getting better.
The lawyers said that from 2009 through September 2016, Weiner exchanged texts and messages online with hundreds of women of varying ages. Almost always these women came to him, and not all of the conversations were of a sexual nature, they added.
Over two months in early 2016, he exchanged more than 1,500 messages with just one middle-aged woman. In the first three months of 2016, there were explicit communications with at least 19 adult women.
The Daily Mail exposé (for which the girl ultimately received $30,000, the lawyers wrote) “jolted Anthony in a way other scandals had not, and led him for the first time to grapple with the depths of his sickness and to find the strength to treat it.”
The memo said Weiner underwent a battery of tests, leading to a diagnosis of “mixed personality disorder, likely stemming from childhood emotional trauma,” which manifested itself in “addictive behavior, such as sex addiction.”
He has since participated in intensive inpatient treatment and has been “vigilant in continuing his therapy” in New York. “A term of imprisonment,” they wrote, “would bring Anthony’s indisputably successful treatment for the sickness underlying his crime to an immediate and complete halt” and would separate him from his son, “who has motivated his recovery.”
“My life isn’t big and loud anymore,” Weiner wrote in his letter. “Every day I quietly do what I can to keep getting better, and to fix the damage I’ve done.”
Earlier Wednesday, Weiner and Abedin appeared before a judge in Manhattan who was hearing their divorce case. While their lawyers were in chambers with the judge, Weiner and Abedin sat next to one another and chatted softly. The judge later said he was glad to hear that the couple wanted to “resolve this amicably,” and would help move the case along quickly.