A disgraced former U.S. congressman whose criminal case played a pivotal role in last year's presidential election was sentenced to 21 months in prison Monday for sending a sexually suggestive picture to an underage girl.
Anthony Weiner, who once represented a New York district in Congress, wept as U.S. District Judge Denise Cote handed down the sentence after he had sought probation and no prison time. He has until early November to turn himself in to authorities.
The case of the 53-year-old Weiner, the estranged husband of Huma Abedin, a key aide to 2016 Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton, roiled the final days of the campaign.
As federal agents investigated Weiner's lewd messages to a 15-year-old girl, they discovered, on his computer, thousands of emails, some with classified material, that Abedin and Clinton had exchanged. That prompted then-Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey, less than two weeks before Election Day, to reopen the agency's probe of Clinton's use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.
Comey had months before cleared Clinton of wrongdoing in the email investigation and exonerated her again just two days before the election, saying there was nothing new in the emails on the Weiner computer that investigators had not already looked at. Since her upset loss to President Donald Trump, she has blamed Comey's intervention in the case so close to the election as "the determining factor" in her defeat.
In her new book about the election, "What Happened," Clinton said that when Abedin, who now is divorcing Weiner, learned that her husband's sexting exchanges with the girl had triggered Comey's renewed interest in Clinton's emails, she burst into tears.
"This man is going to be the death of me," Clinton quoted Abedin as saying.
The acting U.S. attorney in New York, Joon H. Kim, said that Weiner "asked a girl who he knew to be 15 years old to display her naked body and engage in sexually explicit behavior for him online. Justice demands that this type of conduct be prosecuted and punished with time in prison. Today, Anthony Weiner received a just sentence that was appropriate for his crime.”