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United States

Former US Congressman Anthony Weiner pleads guilty to sexting teenager

The estranged husband of Hillary Clinton's closest aide admitted in court to sending explicit images to a 15-year-old girl. Some have blamed the scandal for hurting Clinton's presidential poll numbers at a critical time.

Disgraced former US Congressman Anthony Weiner on Friday pled guilty to sending sexually explicit messages to a minor, a charge that can carry a sentence of up to ten years in prison. Weiner is the estranged husband of longtime Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, and many consider his 2016 sexting scandal to have been detrimental to Clinton's presidential campaign.

The 52-year-old admitted to the federal court in New York that he had transferred obscene material to a 15-year-old girl. As part of a plea bargain arranged between the judge and his lawyer, Weiner will not be able to appeal any sentence of 27 months or less in prison.

"I have a sickness, but I do not have an excuse," the ex-lawmaker said.

Weiner will be required to register as a sex offender, according to Judge Loretta Preska. The sentencing date has been set for September 8.

Scandal on the cusp of the election

Besides sending her inappropriate photos of himself, his victim said Weiner asked her to undress on camera. The allegations prompted then-FBI director James Comey to seize Weiner's laptop for evidence.

Comey then stunned the public in October by announcing that some material he had found on Weiner's laptop had given him reason to reopen the closed investigation in Hillary Clinton's handling of State Department business on a private e-mail server. Although Comey described himself as "mildly nauseous" at the idea, many have said his announcement was at least partially to blame for Clinton losing the presidency to Donald Trump.

Although the inquiry was short and Comey quickly made a public statement that Clinton had committed no wrongdoing, her poll numbers had already taken a tumble ahead of the November 8 vote.

Weiner has a long history of sexual scandals. The first occurred in 2011, when he was a Democratic Congressman from New York. Intending to send a private message to a young woman, Weiner accidentally sent out an explicit picture of himself on his public Twitter feed. He then admitted that he had committed similar actions with six other women and resigned from Congress.

He launched an unsuccessful bid to become mayor of New York City in 2013, but was defeated in the Democratic primaries by current mayor Bill de Blasio.

After the new sexting allegations surfaced in 2016, Weiner announced that he was separating from Abedin, who has been working for Hillary Clinton since she first won an internship at the White House in 1996, when Clinton was first lady.

es/rt (AP, Reuters)