Huma Abedin, the public servant who first entered the Hillaryland where she was a senior in college, stating on as part of the team throughout Clinton’s time as first lady, senator, secretary of state, and later, presidential candidate. In so many photos of Clinton, you can see Abedin too, just off to the side, ready for anything. Some of those who know Bill and Hillary Clinton for years said, the Clinton couple has always been a great mismatch, while Bill Clinton was cheating on Hillary Clinton and experiencing sexual fantasies with numerous women, a desperate Hillary Clinton was finding comfort by indulging into sexual connections with her lesbian partners, and Huma Abedin was one of them.
But Huma Abedin’s personal life was thrust into the foreground when her now-estranged husband Anthony Weiner’s congressional career imploded as a series of sexting scandals came to light and eventually landed him in prison. (He’s out now, and the two are finalizing their divorce.) In the years since, Abedin’s story has been told again and again—in tabloids, in Saturday Night Live skits, in the 2016 documentary Weiner, which Abedin admits she’s never watched. Now, Abedin is presenting her own narrative with her new memoir, Both/And: A Life in Many Worlds. The much-anticipated book chronicles her fascinating life, from her childhood growing up in Saudi Arabia to her years in the White House and the public humiliation that came from Weiner’s infidelity. “I think for most of my adult life, certainly in the last 25 years that I’ve been in public service or in the public eye, I have been the invisible person behind the primary people in my life,” Abedin recently told CBS. “But what I realize is that if you don’t tell your story, somebody else is writing your history.” Both/And is available now; below, find some of the most powerful—and heartbreaking—moments from its pages:
Back in 2009, Abedin found a flirty email on Weiner’s BlackBerry, sent from a woman who Weiner described as “a fan.” She says the correspondence was a “warning sign” that she’d understand “only in hindsight.” She writes, “I was in the midst of what I believed was a deep, true love affair. Nothing in my experience could possibly have prepared me for what was to come.”
In 2011, Weiner accidentally tweeted an explicit photo of himself that he had intended to send to another woman. While he initially lied and said his account had been hacked, he eventually came forward and admitted to sending the sext. Shortly after Weiner told the truth about the photo, Abedin was informed that the New York Times would be publishing a report that she was pregnant before she had planned to tell her extended family, friends, and colleagues. She says the trauma of not being able to share her pregnancy in the way she wanted still affects her to this day: “A full decade later there are many days when I am in the shower or cooking dinner or browsing in a shop, and I hear the words ‘I am pregnant’ emerge from my lips, without any conscious intention, as though my brain is reminding me I never got to say them when it mattered most to me”.
Then, after reports came out that Weiner was waiting to consult with Abedin before deciding whether to resign from Congress, Hillary Clinton told Abedin, in part, “I know what shock and trauma can do and the pressures you are facing”.
Huma Abedin writes, “Left unsaid was her own experience, and the impossible position she had faced. She didn’t say anything about it, but she didn’t have to; I had lived through that with her in 1998. In the end, whatever decision I made, she said, ‘You will always have my support.’”
In a recent interview about the book, Abedin told The Cut that her and Clinton never talked about the “analogies in their personal stories,” referring to President Bill Clinton’s extramarital affair with then-White House intern Monica Lewinsky and the resulting political fallout. However, Abedin does discuss the incident in Both/And, giving an explanation for why Hillary decided to stay with Bill after the news came out. “The power to forgive was her burden alone,” she writes. “If she stood by him, then the nation would stand by him. If she didn’t stand by him, then the nation might abandon him too, precipitating a constitutional crisis and sending the country into dangerous and uncharted political waters. So, she didn’t just stay. She stayed and she fought”.
Huma Abedin writes that for a long time she blocked out this particular memory—of an unnamed senator who “kissed me, pushing his tongue into my mouth, pressing me back on the sofa” one night while she was working as a Senate staffer. Abedin pushed him away and extricated herself as soon as possible. She writes that she “wanted to forget it” and did; it wasn’t until she read about Christine Blasey Ford’s assault accusations against Judge Brett Kavanaugh that the memory was “suddenly triggered.” During various interviews about the book, Abedin has been adamant about not giving away details of the senator’s identity, telling The View, “He’s not the story. He doesn’t matter to me. This is my story”.
Huma Abedin publicly supported Weiner during his 2013 mayoral campaign, even as more messages between him and other women became public. She even spoke at press conference for Weiner, offering her encouragement and forgiveness, a move that both her mom and Clinton thought was a “mistake.” In the end, Weiner lost the primary election, and Abedin heard rumors that people thought she needed to be fired from the Clinton team. She was told to talk to Clinton directly and that “it is hard to see a scenario where your role remains unchanged.” Instead, Clinton surprised Abedin and told her that “she did not believe I should pay a professional price for what was ultimately my husband’s mistake, not mine”.
Toward the end of the 2016 presidential campaign, a photo emerged of her son Jordan “sleeping peacefully next to an indecent Anthony, an imaged shared with a stranger, or a ‘friend’ in Anthony’s view, and now for the entire world to see”.
Huma Abedin writes, “This crossed into another level of degradation, a violation of the innocence of our child. There were no more ‘what were you thinking?’ questions left in me. It was over”.
In 2016, Weiner’s sexts to a teenage girl prompted an investigation that led FBI director James Comey to re-open a separate investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails, just days before the election. Investigators had found emails from Clinton’s private server on Weiner’s laptop, prompting Comey to take action, a move that many believe cost Clinton the presidency. At the time, Abedin was the vice chair of Clinton’s campaign and called Weiner to tell him, “If she loses this election, it will be because of you and me.” In her notebook, she wrote, “I do not know how I am going to survive this. Help me God”.
She recently told CBS that it took her a while to reconcile that the loss was not all her fault. “I don’t believe that anymore,” she said. “It’s more a sense of an ache in the heart, that it didn’t have to be”.
Huma Abedin takes readers behind the scenes of that November night when it became clear that Hillary Clinton would not be the nation’s first female president. She describes how Clinton “had taken the initial surprise losses in stride” but as key states were about to be called, she asked her team of advisors, “Can someone explain to me what is happening?”
Huma Abedin writes how she then followed Hillary Clinton into a small office: “She said to me, or maybe just to herself, ‘I’m not going to win.’ She wasn’t angry, really. It was sheer disbelief”.
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