How Hillary Clinton’s aide survived husband's sexting scandal

Hillary Clinton (right) with Huma Abedin. After Huma turned 34, she requested Hillary’s husband, former president Bill Clinton to officiate her wedding to Congressman Anthony Weiner on July 10, 2010. 

Photo credit: Photo | Pool

What you need to know:

  • Huma Abedin, a brilliant political operative, formed an extremely close bond with Hillary Clinton while working by her side for decades.
  • Abedin's husband repeatedly derailed his own career and deeply embarrassed his wife through his inability to control his compulsive sexting and obscene online behavior with multiple women.
  • In her memoir, Abedin reflects on her resilience and how she found the strength to carry on in the face of her husband's shocking betrayals that played out on the national stage.

Huma Abedin was born by an Urdu speaking Indian mother and a Pakistani father on July 26, 1975 in Kalamazoo, a suburban town in Michigan State in the United States. In 1977, the government of Saudi Arabia made her professor parents Saleh and Zain, a generous offer. They were ordained with faculty positions at King Abdulaziz University in the sprawling urban landscape of Jeddah, and they moved with their four children to Saudi Arabia.

In August 1993, Huma began her journalism studies while simultaneously studying for a minor in political science at George Washington University (GWU) in Washington DC. GWU was located within the vicinity of the State Department, and had a close proximity to the White House, the US Capitol, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Washington Monument.

While studying, she became an intern, through the White House internship program, to then First Lady Hillary Clinton's office in September 1996. This marked the beginning of an inseparable friendship with her boss.

In Huma's memoir Both/And: A Life in Many Worlds, she narrates how she spent her entire career in public service and national politics in DC's oppressive heat and humidity. After four years in the White House, she worked as senior advisor to Hillary, who by then represented New York State in the US Senate. She was later appointed chief of staff for Hillary’s 2008 presidential campaign.

She was promoted to deputy chief of staff at the US Department of State in 2009, and continued to serve under Hillary with distinction. This subsequently led to her appointment as vice -hair of Hillary's 2016 presidential campaign, when Hillary became the first woman elected nominee of a major political party.

They grew so close when Hillary was the Secretary of State in Barack Obama’s administration, she began calling Huma her second daughter.

After Huma turned 34, she requested Hillary’s husband, former president Bill Clinton to officiate her wedding to Congressman Anthony Weiner on July 10, 2010 in Long Island, New York. Weiner was one of the most compelling politicians of his generation. He was a brash Jew who could instantly read a room and intuitively work the crowd at any parade with formidable showmanship. He was passionate, whip smart, brazenly articulate, self-assured and never at a loss for descriptive words. He possessed all political gifts except self-control.

Youngest member

Weiner was hired by then New York House representative Chuck Schumer’s office fresh from graduation in 1985. After six years with Schumer, he ran for the New York City Council in 1991, winning one of the 51 seats. At 27, he became the youngest city council member in history. When Chuck Schumer decided to contest for the New York Senate office, Weiner aimed for Schumer’s congressional spot, New York’s Ninth Congressional District. He won, replacing his competent incumbent in 1998, in the House of Representatives.

At formal dinners with chairmen of Fortune 500 companies, Weiner would broach the issue of pay discrepancy between the executives he was seated next to, and their employees. He believed powerful people deserved to feel uncomfortable about the retrogressive decisions they made. Huma fell in love with this trait that called it as he saw it.

When Huma was pregnant with her first child, Jordan, in 2011, an indecent photo her husband shared to a 15-year-old girl on Twitter, of himself in his bulging underpants went viral and he suddenly became a social pariah. The story of the lewd picture was published on every major broadsheet and tabloid in the US, leading to Weiner's resignation from congress. Huma felt betrayed; her husband had lied to her on phone, while she was on a state visit to Islamabad with Hillary, that his Twitter account had been hacked and the picture wasn't his.

She and Weiner went through months of therapy to restore their relationship. On May 18, 2022, two years after resigning, Weiner announced his candidacy for New York City mayor and Huma joined his campaign team, effectively calling potential donors to raise funds.

Sexting addiction

In the midst of the campaign, released evidence of recent explicit phone chats ‘Carlos Danger’, the pseudonym Weiner used when sexting a Las Vegas blackjack dealer called Sydney Leathers. In a TV interview, Sydney said Weiner called her more than five times daily, to demand phone sex. The widespread public belief was crystalline, that Weiner possessed a relentless psychiatric addiction of sexting and having phone sex with strangers.

His popularity skydived in the polls and he was defeated in the Democratic Party mayoral nomination, finishing fifth in the race that was eventually won by Bill De Blasio. In 2016, New York Post published a picture of an aroused Weiner that he had sent to a woman, of himself lying on his marital bed next to his infant son Jordan. He was diagnosed with sex addiction, leading Huma to file for divorce, before Weiner was sentenced to 21 months in prison for transferring obscene material to a teenager. He confessed to Huma that he wasn't just sexting women, but was previously having sex with them in their martial bed.

Jeff Anthony is a novelist, a Big Brother Africa 2 Kenyan representative and founder of Jeff's Fitness Centre @jeffbigbrother