Anthony Weiner, the former seven-term member of Congress from New York City who in 2011 was forced to resign from the House of Representatives over a sexting scandal, pleaded with a judge on Wednesday to keep him out of prison after he pleaded guilty earlier this year to sending obscene material to a teen girl whom he understood to be 15.
But in his pleas to Federal District Court Judge Denise Cote, Weiner, through his lawyers, blamed the unnamed North Carolina teen for setting him up as part of a plot to sway the 2016 presidential election in favor of Donald Trump. The investigation into Weiner's sexting activities was "quite improperly injected into the U.S. presidential election, quite possibly affecting its outcome," Weiner's lawyers said in a letter to the judge.
"After the election was over, the high school student told government investigators that this had been one of her goals from the outset," the lawyers alleged.
As part of the investigation, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents examined Weiner's personal computer and came across hundreds of emails that appear to have been from the account of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. In an unprecedented and intensely controversial decision, then-FBI Director James Comey sent a letter to congressional investigators announcing that Clinton's emails had been discovered on Weiner's computer.
Comey sent the letter just 11 days prior to the November 8, 2016, election. Weiner is married to Clinton's top aide, Huma Abedin, though as a result of his repeated sexting scandals, Abedin and Weiner are now in the process of seeking a divorce.
Clinton herself has said in recent interviews that "I believe the evidence shows I would have won," had Comey not sent that letter, and sent it just days before the election leaving Clinton no time to recover from the out-of-the-blue political blow.
Data compiled by polling expert Nate Silver of the data journalism site FiveThirtyEight.com also supports the assertion that the Comey letter, that was sparked by the Weiner sexting scandal, likely cost Clinton the presidency -- and handed it to Trump.
"Hillary Clinton would probably be president if FBI Director James Comey had not sent a letter to Congress on Oct. 28," Silver wrote in his analysis of the Comey letter's impact on the race.
"The letter, which said the FBI had "learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation" into the private email server that Clinton used as secretary of state, upended the news cycle and soon halved Clinton's lead in the polls, imperiling her position in the Electoral College," Silver concluded.
Comey later announced that the emails found on Weiner's computer had no significance and were merely copies of emails previously inspected by the FBI that had been forwarded by Abedin. But the damage to Clinton had been done, as Silver showed in his analysis of her crashing poll numbers following the "Comey letter."
In fact, Weiner's sexting exchange with the teen girl was revealed in an exposé by the Daily Mail news and gossip site -- a report dated September 21, 2016, and that can still be read online at this link -- for which the publication paid the teen $30,000, according to Weiner's lawyers.
But according to Russ Baker's investigative reporting site WhoWhatWhy.org, the FBI sexting investigation that resulted in the discovery of Clinton emails on Weiner's computer was the result of "a deliberate plot... an act that may have put Donald Trump in the White House."
In the exclusive report that can be read online at this link, the investigative site said says that "Trump or somebody high up in his campaign received inside information, possibly from sources in the Bureau," and that there was indeed, "an operation to bait Anthony Weiner, the controversial husband of Clinton's top aide Huma Abedin."
While Baker published a number of award-winning investigative reports in the past, his recent work has courted controversy. In 2015, he questioned the legitimacy of the Boston Marathon bombings and was "not willing to rule out the possibility that the bombings were a false-flag operation conducted or permitted by elements of the American government in order to justify the Homeland Security complex," according to Boston.
Weiner had been involved in two previous sexting scandals, but both involved his sexually explicit correspondence with adult women. He says he has since been "vigilant in continuing his therapy" for his sexual compulsions and that the potential 10-year prison sentence that he faces would bring his recovery to a "halt," according to his lawyers' letters to the judge.
[Featured Image By Jefferson Siegel/AP Images]