MANHATTAN (CN) — Covering their bases in a bid to take prison off the table for disgraced ex-congressman Anthony Weiner, new court filings by the Democratic Party’s fallen star and his attorney are equal parts penitent and political thriller.
Unveiled late Wednesday, the 71-page sentencing memorandum by Covington & Burling attorney Arlo Devlin-Brown is a study of contrast against his client’s 5-page letter to the court, which opens with a quotation from the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous, text that Weiner is studying while in treatment for sex addiction.
While Weiner’s letter grapples with making amends for a compulsion that he describes as destroying his marriage and endangering the wellbeing of a 15-year-old girl, the memo from Devlin-Brown casts the scandal against the backdrop of a national power struggle.
“In January 2016, Anthony Weiner, at the depths of an uncontrolled sickness, was compulsively responding from his Manhattan apartment to all corners who contacted him over the Internet,” the memo states. “Hundreds of miles away, a curious high school student, looking to generate material for a book the government has disclosed she is now shopping to publishers, wanted to see if she could induce the infamous behavior for which the disgraced former Congressman was by then best known. She could.”
As Devlin-Brown tells it, the teenager told government investigators that her intention all along was to tip the presidential election in which Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin, was a top aide for the Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.
Claiming that the girl baited his client into chatting on the encrypted platform Kik, Devlin-Brown notes that she took screenshots of the sexually charged chats that otherwise disappear once they are opened.
He also emphasized that the teenager’s plan does not mitigate his client’s responsibility.
“To be clear: that JD was trying to induce Anthony to behave badly so she could profit from it does not excuse Anthony, who never should have responded,” the memo states. “Nor does Anthony treat these circumstances as a justification.”
Though the Daily Mail paid $30,000 for access to those screenshots, Devlin-Brown notes in another section of the memo that tabloid attention alone might not have been enough to affect last year’s presidential race without multiple leaks from federal agents.
The pieces fell into place, Devlin-Brown notes, when then-FBI Director James Comey alluded to the Weiner investigation as a justification to relaunch the probe of Clinton’s emails.
“Anthony might once have been a punch line, but he is now — to many in this country — something far worse, as a result of Secretary Clinton’s loss,” the memo states.
Abedin, the former Clinton aide now divorcing Weiner after the scandal, urged the judge for leniency as well in a separate letter pockmarked with heavy redactions.
“This is not a letter I ever imagined I would write, but, with Anthony, I have repeatedly found myself in circumstances I never imagined,” Abedin wrote.
Abedin emphasizes that she is not seeking compassion for herself or for Weiner, but for their son, whose age still protects him for now from the fallout of his father’s crime.
Weiner notes in his letter that he wants to be the one to break the news.
“Now I don’t fear that day that he asks me about who [his] daddy was,” he said. “I’ll tell him I was a troubled guy who did a lot of amazing things for people I barely knew. I’ll [tell] him I was a guy [who] did a very bad thing to a young person I never met. I’ll tell him I put his amazing mother through years of trauma and broke her heart.”
Weiner pleaded guilty this past May to one count of transferring obscene material to a minor. Prosecutors have not yet disclosed what sentence they will seek at Weiner’s Sept. 25 sentencing hearing. The federal guidelines suggest a range of between 21 and 27 months.