Anthony Weiner’s Not Coming Back. But He Has Nowhere to Go.


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But the kind of media and social media storm he was in felt new back then. “We didn’t know what we were working with then and I lied to everyone around me,” he said.

And after leaving public life in 2013, he slipped from coercion into crime, and the saga expanded from damaging his own life to that of the nation. In January 2016, he began exchanging explicit messages with a 15-year-old girl. After the texts were announced in September 2016, the public prosecutor’s office confiscated his laptop. And then, 11 days before the presidential election, FBI Director James Comey wrote a letter to Congress saying that new emails discovered on Mr. Weiner’s computer had prompted him to investigate the email. To resume mail from Mrs. Clinton.

Weeks later, when the Democrats tried to understand how Donald J. Trump was elected president, Mr. Weiner was blamed for part of the guilt. He was the butterfly that flapped his, uh, wings and led to the election of Mr. Trump. Mr Weiner said he believed, in hindsight, that bigger forces were involved in this campaign and that if it hadn’t been for the emails, Mr Trump’s supporters would have taken action otherwise. Indeed, Trump-like personalities have been elected around the world. It wasn’t just Mr. Weiner.

But his own skepticism that he was the deadly butterfly “is complicated by the fact that Hillary thinks so,” he said. (“I wouldn’t call it a net positive,” said a Mrs. Clinton spokesman, Nick Merrill.)

His life bottomed out in 2017 when he was sentenced to 21 months in prison for distributing obscene material to a minor. He served 15 months in a Massachusetts federal prison and three more in a halfway house in the Bronx. His compulsion shattered his career and his marriage to a senior Hillary Clinton advisor, Huma Abedin, has left him almost unemployed and officially labeled a sex offender.

Mr. Weiner has spent most of last year running a Brooklyn-based company called IceStone that makes eco-friendly countertops. He instituted a policy to offer interviews to ex-inmates. He was about to step down as chairman of the board in an attempt to transform the company into a “workers-run cooperative.” He and Ms. Abedin, who still works for Ms. Clinton, are finalizing their divorce, but they live down the hall in the same apartment building. Mr. Weiner is on a 12-step program for sex addiction, and one of the conditions is that he doesn’t talk about it. His life, he said, revolves mostly around her 9-year-old son.

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Sometimes people tell him to try to change the “narrative” about himself. But there is no point. For him there is no way back into public life. “‘The narrative’ implies that you are telling a story,” he said. “To what end?” The exception, he said, is that his agent bought a book about sex addiction that he hoped could help other people in his position.



Robert Dunfee