In a tearful display, Anthony Weiner pleaded guilty last week to one charge of sending obscene material to a minor.
However, new evidence from a watchdog group might prove that, while Weiner was certainly wrong for sexting, no crime was actually committed. In fact, the circumstance may only have been a set-up geared to damage Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, says WhoWhatWhy, an organization headed by acclaimed investigative journalist Russ Baker.
On May 22, WhoWhatWhy released information that Baker says proves the accuser – a young woman in North Carolina – lied about her age.
In his research, Baker found that the accuser (now 18) was about to turn 17 at the time online communication was established between her and Weiner. The female initiated this contact, too. And according to North Carolina law, 16 is the lowest age of consent for sexual contact and communication. Thus, the charge of distributing obscene material to a minor is invalid, WhoWhatWhy says.
Says the organization in its report:
“The lie that she was 15 years old when Weiner sent her obscene material seems clearly designed to produce the maximum public outrage and put Weiner in greater legal jeopardy — and the media-generated uproar may well have compelled the authorities to become involved and seize (Weiner’s) computer with Clinton’s emails.”
This fact doesn’t excuse Weiner’s behavior, however, Baker asserts. And even though it makes the charges completely invalid, Weiner’s legal agreement in the guilty plea could prevent this evidence from being used in his defense.
“(T)he way Anthony Weiner’s plea deal is structured inhibits further inquiry by dispensing with the matter while revealing no details about the underlying history.”
The charges against Weiner arose from a plot to damage Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, WhoWhatWhy also alleges.
Weiner’s communication with the unnamed female was only discovered in the FBI’s last investigation of Clinton’s use of private email while working as Secretary of State. Weiner’s wife, Clinton aide Human Abedin, sent messages to her then-husband from her government email account. That allowed the FBI to search Weiner’s laptop, which is how the sexting was discovered.
Having nothing else to go with, Clinton opponents released that information, hoping to damage the Democrat’s campaign, and leading to the charges against Weiner. The young accuser herself is the one who leaked the story to media, too.
Some believe this news, released only weeks before the presidential election, may have changed the race from “blowout” to “horse race,” contributing to Clinton’s loss in November.
The accuser and her family “lied about political loyalties,” too, WhoWhatWhy alleges. Claims that she and her family were loyal to Clinton’s campaign were only meant to disguise their real goal of damaging it.
In fact, WhoWhatWhy says it found evidence the female posted positive messages about Trump’s win on social media. Her father is a registered Republican, her mother was an open opponent to Black Lives Matter, and her grandmother was even a Tea Party activist, Baker’s research found.
As previously noted, however, even if all WhoWhatWhy’s research is correct, it may be too late to use the information to change Weiner’s verdict.
Baker contributes investigative articles to The New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, The Washington Post, and other journals, and is a contributing editor to Columbia Journalism Review.
Featured image by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images