By Brendan Pierson
(Reuters) - U.S. prosecutors on Wednesday sought a prison sentence of 21 to 27 months for former U.S. Congressman Anthony Weiner, who admitted to sending sexually explicit messages to a teenage girl in a “sexting” scandal that played a role in last year’s U.S. presidential election.
"Weiner, a grown man, a father, and a former lawmaker, willfully and knowingly asked a 15-year-old girl to display her body and engage in sexually explicit conduct for him online," prosecutors said in a filing in Manhattan federal court. "Such conduct warrants a meaningful sentence of incarceration."
A lawyer for Weiner, who is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Denise Cote next Monday, could not immediately be reached for comment.
In a court filing last week, Weiner's lawyers asked that he be sentenced to probation with no prison time, saying he acted out of the “depths of an uncontrolled sickness" for which he was now being treated.
Weiner, 53, pleaded guilty in May to transferring obscene material to a minor.
The investigation into Weiner’s exchanges with the teenage girl roiled the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign in its final days, when authorities found emails on Weiner’s laptop from his wife Huma Abedin, an aid to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Abedin has filed for divorce.
The discovery of the emails prompted James Comey, then director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, to announce in late October that the agency was reopening its investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server while serving as U.S. secretary of state.
Clinton has said the announcement contributed to her upset loss to Republican Donald Trump, who had accused her of endangering national security by using the private server.
Comey testified before Congress in May that the emails found on Weiner’s computer included classified information.
Trump fired Comey in May amid the FBI’s probe into whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to defeat Clinton, a claim the president has denied.
Weiner served parts of New York City for 12 years in the U.S. House of Representatives before resigning in 2011, when it emerged that he had exchanged sexually explicit messages with adult women.
Weiner and Abedin's son, now 5 years old, was born several months later.
In 2013, Weiner ran for New York City mayor, but dropped out of the race when more lewd messages became public.
(Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Tom Brown)