Will Anthony Weiner Stand Trial? The Hillary Clinton Email Review Is Bringing Him Back To The Political Spotlight
It's been a rough couple of... well, years for Anthony Weiner. After barely managing to weather not one, not two, but three separate sexting scandals over the last five years, the disgraced former congressman could face serious charges over allegations he sent sexually explicit messages to an underage teenager. Those allegations were pushed into the political spotlight on Friday when the FBI announced it had uncovered new Hillary Clinton emails while investigating Weiner's latest scandal. While the former congressman is probably in hot water with Clinton, will Weiner be forced to stand trial?
In an interview with the Daily Mail, a 15-year-old girl claimed to have had a months-long online relationship with Weiner, during which the former congressman allegedly sent her sexually explicit messages and photos via Twitter, Facebook, Kik, and Confide. According to the Daily Mail, Weiner also allegedly shared pornographic videos with the underage girl, asked her to dress as a "school-girl" on a video messaging app, and encouraged her to engage in "rape fantasies" with him. Weiner hasn't necessarily confirmed nor denied these allegations.
While Weiner admitted to sending the teen what he called "flirtatious" messages, he claimed he had "likely been the subject of a hoax" in a statement to CNN. "I have repeatedly demonstrated terrible judgment about the people I have communicated with online and the things I have sent," Weiner said. "I am filled with regret and heartbroken for those I have hurt.
Regret and remorse, however, haven't been enough to keep Weiner off law enforcement authorities' radar, it seems. Authorities in both New York and North Carolina reportedly began investigating the allegations raised in the Daily Mail's report, according to the Associated Press.
A spokeswoman for Jill Westmoreland Rose, the U.S. attorney for the Western District of North Carolina in Charlotte, told the AP they had "begun investigative efforts," while an anonymous source revealed a probe had been opened by a New York-based FBI task force that aims to curb the sexual exploitation of children. (Weiner was also reportedly contacted by Child Services in early September regarding a crotch shot he'd sent a separate woman that included his 4-year-old son sleeping beside him.) As part of preliminary investigation efforts, CNN revealed prosecutors in U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara's office had subpoenaed the cell phones of both Weiner and his estranged wife, Huma Abedin.
In October, it was reported that a federal grand jury was expected to convene and hear evidence regarding the allegations before determining whether criminal charges or an indictment should be brought forth. It remains unclear where and when the grand jury will convene let alone when they might have their decision.
However, should a grand jury decide there's enough evidence to slap charges of sexual exploitation of children, disseminating indecent material to minors, or promoting the sexual performance of a child against Weiner, a trial becomes a possibility.
Whether or not Weiner stands trial, the allegations currently being levied against him are certainly damning. While consensual sexting between adults may be merely risque and make Weiner tabloid fodder, engaging in sexually explicit exchanges with a minor takes his sexting habit to a dark level.