Federal prosecutors are considering whether to file child pornography charges against disgraced former congressman Anthony Weiner after meeting with his attorneys last month, sources tell NBC 4 New York.
The potential charges stem from the sexually charged text messages and Skype conversations he allegedly exchanged with a 15-year-old girl for months last year. The messages were revealed when online news outlet DailyMail.com interviewed the girl last September.
Weiner's attorneys met with federal prosecutors in December in an attempt to dissuade them from charging him in the case, sources familiar with the investigation told NBC 4.
Among the issues discussed at the meeting was whether Weiner should be considered a sexual predator or a man with a non-criminal sexting addiction who engaged with one girl who happened to be underage, according to the sources.
The text messages published online showed he clearly was aware the girl was underage. In the exchanges, Weiner asked the girl to undress and touch herself.
Weiner, who resigned from Congress in 2011 after revelations he was sending sexually explicit messages to multiple women, acknowledged he communicated online with a girl who accused him of sending sexually explicit messages -- but he also said at the time he'd also been the subject of a hoax.
He apologized in the statement, saying he had "repeatedly demonstrated terrible judgment about the people I have communicated with online."
But he also said he had "likely been the subject of a hoax" and provided an email, written by the girl to a teacher, in which she recanted her story.
State law makes it a felony to knowingly send minors "harmful" online messages or pictures involving nudity or sexual conduct or ask them to engage in sexual acts or performances, and some federal criminal laws also prohibit such behavior.
Federal prosecutors in both North Carolina and New York were initially involved in the investigation, but agents in New York subsequently took the lead, according to a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.
Weiner is separated from Huma Abedin, an aide to then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, and they have a young son.
When federal prosecutors began investigating Weiner last fall, they found he'd communicated with the 15-year-old girl using a laptop he shared with Abedin, who used the same computer to send emails to Clinton, according to NBC News and the AP. That prompted another round of investigation into Hillary Clinton emails just 11 days before the election.
Abedin left Weiner last fall after revelations he had sent more sexually charged messages to another woman.
Weiner unsuccessfully ran for mayor in 2005. He made another bid for mayor in 2013 and was leading several polls until it was revealed he had continued his questionable behavior after his resignation from Congress. He now works as a pundit and consultant.