Anthony Weiner was sentenced Monday to 21 months in prison for sexting with a 15-year-old girl, the conclusion of a protracted scandal that both cost Weiner politically and reopened an FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state, which may have contributed to Clinton’s loss of the presidential election.
Weiner is facing time in prison for exchanging pornographic photos with a girl who was 15 years old at the time, and who, he’s said, “[he] understood to be 15 years old.” In May 2017, Weiner pleaded guilty to transferring obscene material to a minor, a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison. On Monday, he cried as he told US District Judge Denise Cote that he is “a very sick man” and has hit “rock bottom.”
Weiner’s most recent sexting scandal came at a crucial moment in the 2016 presidential election: In late October, the FBI announced that its investigation into Weiner’s sexts had reopened a separate investigation into whether Hillary Clinton illegally handled classified information during her time as secretary of state.
As Vox’s Jeff Stein explained at the time, Weiner’s then-wife Huma Abedin, a longtime top Clinton aide, had used Weiner’s laptop to email back and forth with Clinton.
Though the FBI ultimately announced two days before the election that it had found nothing new in the emails, Clinton called the reopening of the investigation “the determining factor” of her loss to Donald Trump.
Weiner himself seemed to acknowledge the enormous consequences of the scandal and its timing in a letter earlier this month to Judge Cote. “My continued acting out over years crushed the aspirations of my wife and ruined our marriage,” wrote Weiner.
Weiner’s sexting scandal involved three major episodes, the third of which led to his conviction on Monday. There was the first revelation of his dalliances in 2011, which cost him his House seat. Then there was a second scandal uncovered in 2013, in the midst of his New York City mayoral campaign, which was memorably captured in the 2016 documentary Weiner. But it’s the third revelation that has now led to his conviction and that played a major role in the 2016 presidential election.