Politics & Government

Gaston teen’s sexting leads to latest Clinton email storm

AP

A Gaston County teenager’s sexting relationship with a disgraced former New York congressman has set off a new storm of scrutiny over how former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton handled diplomatic emails.

Federal officials learned of the girl’s relationship with Anthony Weiner through a Sept. 21 story by the Daily Mail. When confronted, Weiner allegedly gave the girl’s email address and photograph to several media outlets, and she was tracked down by media at her Gaston County home, the newspaper reported.

“I think it’s absurd and wrong. Weiner has already done enough to my 15-year-old daughter without adding to it more,” the girl’s father told a U.S.-based reporter for the the British tabloid.

Efforts to reach the family were unsuccessful on Monday. The New York Daily News reported that the girl and her father would not comment, citing a nondisclosure agreement with the Daily Mail.

After the Daily Mail’s story appeared, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte opened an investigation that was later moved by the Department of Justice to New York, Weiner’s home city. Federal prosecutors there subpoenaed Weiner’s cellphone and other electronic equipment the day after the story appeared.

Over the weekend – little more than a week before Americans pick their next president – FBI Director James Comey told Congress that a search of Weiner’s laptop uncovered thousands of emails that may or may not be pertinent to the FBI’s previous investigation of Clinton’s use of a private email server when she was secretary of state.

Last summer, and after a lengthy investigation, Comey said Clinton had been extremely careless with diplomatic information. But he added that “no reasonable prosecutor” would bring a criminal case against the Democrat based on the evidence the FBI found.

GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump and other Republicans have seized on Comey’s letter to Congress last week as proof of Clinton’s criminality. Critics say the FBI director violated a longstanding Department of Justice policy not to influence elections with investigations or other official actions. “The American people deserve better than that,” Sen. Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, wrote Comey on Monday.

Odds are that none of the new revelations would have come to light before Election Day had the Gaston County high school sophomore, now 16, not started following Weiner on Twitter in late January.

The 51-year-old Democrat is the estranged husband of Clinton top aide Huma Abedin, who left Weiner due to his repeated and highly publicized sexually charged online relationships with other women. Reports of Weiner’s sexting led to his resignation from Congress in 2011 and the demise of his 2013 run for mayor of New York.

His correspondences with the Gaston teen started with questions about school and the weather, but then veered into more graphic tones during emails and video chats, according to the Daily Mail, which published screen grabs to show some of the exchanges. Weiner knew the girl was underage and in high school, the girl and her father told the newspaper.

According to the story, the teen said Weiner urged her to wear provocative school girl outfits, touch herself while calling out his name, and role play with him in “rape fantasies.” He sent her bare-chested photos of himself and told her she aroused him, the Daily Mail reported. In a particularly tawdry exchange, he talked of wanting to have rough sex with her so often “that you would ... limp for a week,” according to photographs of the emails that appeared with the story.

The teenager, who the paper said was not identified because of her age, alerted her father and a teacher to the relationship in April. The father and daughter told the Mail that they’d agreed to talk out of concern that Weiner may be having similar relationships with other underage girls.

The girl said the relationship with the former congressman was consensual. Her father, described in one email as an attorney, said he did not push for criminal charges against Weiner at the urging of his daughter.

Michael Gordon: 704-358-5095, @MikeGordonOBS

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