Former Rep. Anthony Weiner pleaded guilty on Friday morning to charges stemming from his sexually charged conversations with a 15-year-old, capping a long-running legal and political scandal whose impact was felt in Congress, New York City politics and the tumultuous 2016 presidential campaign.
At a court hearing in Lower Manhattan, Weiner admitted he knew the woman was underage, as part of a plea agreement that will require him to register as a sex offender. Prosecutors recommended a sentence between 21 months and 27 months as part of the agreement.
A tearful Weiner said his “destructive impulses” led him to send the explicit images, and he admitted to “encouraging her to engage in sexually explicit conduct” in late 2016.
“This fall, I came to grips for the first time with the depth of my sickness,” Weiner said, his voice cracking.
“I had hit bottom,” he told the judge, and said he began “to take a moral inventory of my defects. … I accept full responsibility for my conduct. I have a sickness, but I do not have an excuse.”
Weiner, who was wearing a wedding ring, agreed to surrender his iPhone and passport, and he was released from court awaiting a sentencing on September 8. Weiner’s estranged wife, Huma Abedin, a longtime aide to Hillary Clinton, was not in the courtroom.
After the proceeding, Weiner shook hands with the F.B.I. agents who sat with the prosecutors, and was heard telling them, “I appreciate your service.”
News of Weiner’s plea agreement was first reported by the New York Times early Friday.
Weiner has been a pariah in New York’s political class since he resigned from Congress in 2011, and his former colleagues were not eager to weigh in on his situation on Friday morning. A spokesman for Mayor Bill de Blasio’s campaign declined to comment Friday , as did a number of elected officials and former associates of Weiner.
One Democratic lawmaker simply told POLITICO New York that the situation was “too sad.” A Republican in Queens who has no affection for Weiner also declined to comment, saying, “Piling on is unseemly.”