Clinton aide Abedin dumps Weiner after more lewd texts – Politico
Top Hillary Clinton adviser Huma Abedin on Monday announced that she is separating from her husband, Anthony Weiner, after six rocky years of marriage during which the couple’s shared vision of a political future together has been disrupted multiple times by humiliating revelations of the former congressman’s compulsive sexting habit.
“After long and painful consideration and work on my marriage, I have made the decision to separate from my husband,” Abedin said in a statement. “Anthony and I remain devoted to doing what is best for our son, who is the light of our life. During this difficult time, I ask for respect for our privacy.”
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The announcement comes after the New York Post reported on Sunday night about Weiner’s latest sexually explicit messages with another woman. Weiner, who has been married to Abedin since July 2010, resigned from Congress in 2011 after mistakenly tweeting an explicit image of himself intended as a direct message.
Abedin, who was embarrassed by Weiner’s decision to permit filmmakers to document his failed 2013 failed New York City mayoral run, was hoping to end the marriage outside the glare of the mid-campaign cameras. But the new images — especially the image of Weiner in underwear on a bed next to their young son — were simply too much to bear, said one Abedin friend.
A person close to Abedin said the couple has been “estranged” for about a year and “essentially” separated — although they still share both their Manhattan apartment and parenting duties. Over the past few months, people close to the couple have painted a portrait of a marriage on the verge of collapse, and reporters covering the campaign have noticed in recent weeks that Abedin has often appeared in public without her wedding or engagement rings.
They have, however, made high-profile public appearances together during that time. In May, for instance, the couple attended the celebrity-studded Met Ball and posed for society column photographers together. And in a glossy profile in Vogue magazine earlier this month, Abedin credited her husband’s willingness to function as a “full-time dad” as part of the support system that allowed her to take on such a demanding role in the campaign.
Abedin, according to two people in her orbit, didn’t know the Post story was in the works before heading to the Hamptons for her annual working vacation with the Clintons — who have been ferociously fundraising — and Clinton intimates like Cheryl Mills, along with Abedin’s own family, including her sister Heba and her son Jordan. Weiner was not invited, they told POLITICO.
“She wasn’t fleeing the media,” said a person close to the longtime Clinton body woman — whom the Democratic nominee has likened to a second daughter. “But it worked out for the best, being surrounded by her family and her friends … It’s a difficult day but she’ll get through it.”
Several other Abedin friends and colleagues expressed similar sentiments: While they were concerned for her well-being over the next few days and weeks, they are happy that Weiner was being given his walking papers. “Anything that ensures he’s no longer around is good news,” said one fellow Clinton staffer.
And Clinton allies immediately rallied around Abedin. “Huma is like family, not just to Hillary Clinton, but to the … whole campaign” Jennifer Granholm, vice chair of Clinton’s transition committee said on MSNBC. “She is like the glue. And I’m sure that the whole campaign is hoping that people respect her privacy and grieve with her over what is happening.”
But some allies are privately expressing concern that Abedin’s high public profile — she is a near-constant presence by Clinton’s side and has become a celebrity in her own right, with fans even stopping her for selfies — could enable her personal story to overshadow Clinton’s message in the final 70 days of the campaign.
“It would be helpful for her to take a step back from the campaign for a while,” said one Clinton ally close to the campaign, “or at least get off the campaign trail and work in Brooklyn. But I doubt that is going to happen.”
Another Clinton ally expressed concern that Abedin would remain a target — of the media and of Donald Trump — if she remained in the spotlight.
But campaign aides said there was no indication that Abedin’s personal life will affect her professional role as a key player in Clinton’s traveling inner circle. “The sentiment has been one thing and one thing only: We only want to do what is in the best interest of Huma,” said a Clinton aide.
In conversations Sunday evening and Monday morning, among a brain trust of about seven staffers and confidantes in Clinton’s inner circle, the idea of Abedin taking a step back for the critical final months of the campaign was never broached, the aide said. “We are entirely focused on the fact that Huma needs to do what she needs to do, and we’re going to help her.”
Clinton herself, longtime associates said, is likely to return the support and loyalty of one of her longest-serving aides. “She’s going to want to be supportive of her, and tell her, ‘whatever you want to do,’” said one Clinton confidante. And Abedin is known among her colleagues as someone who feels most comfortable, and derives most of her power, when in close proximity to the candidate.
But over the past year, she has already been slowly backing off of some of the more quotidian campaign travel days in an effort to shed her “body woman” persona. She did travel with Clinton for her latest fundraising swing through California, for instance, but served more as a sort of campaign ambassador to celebrities and big donors. And on regular campaign days, she has been working from the office more often than the road.
Abedin, who has fended off Republican attacks for years, has come under renewed scrutiny for her role in handling requests from from Bill Clinton aide Doug Band, who peppered the secretary of state’s office with requests for meetings with Clinton Foundation donors, according to recently released emails. The Clinton campaign has dismissed as “cherry-picking” an Associated Press investigation finding that the Democratic nominee met with dozens of foundation donors as secretary.
The future seems uncertain for Weiner, whose Twitter account had vanished Monday morning after the Post’s report. And in another sign of the expanding fallout, New York Daily News opinion editor Josh Greenman confirmed to POLITICO that the newspaper will no longer run his column, which it has published since 2014. The local station NY1, where Weiner was a regular paid talking head, also placed him on “indefinite leave,” CNN reported.
The former congressman has resurfaced repeatedly in 2016, in part due to the documentary that he said Abedin never consented to doing (a spokeswoman for the filmmaker told The New York Times that everyone had consented to appearing in the film), and in no small measure thanks to Trump, who has also made repeated digs at Clinton for her association with Weiner as Abedin’s husband.
On Monday, Trump praised Abedin for “making a very wise decision,” though he took a shot at her boss for good measure.
“I know Anthony Weiner well, and she will be far better off without him,” the Republican nominee said in a statement. “I only worry for the country in that Hillary Clinton was careless and negligent in allowing Weiner to have such close proximity to highly classified information. Who knows what he learned and who he told? It’s just another example of Hillary Clinton’s bad judgment. It is possible that our country and its security have been greatly compromised by this.”
Trump was more colorful during an interview Monday on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM’s “The Dori Monson Show.”
“Here’s a guy that what he’s done over the internet is disgusting, and he’s a pervert and just a very sick guy,” he said. “He’s a sick puppy, and so, you know, it just happened and it’s, you know, it’s actually sad in many ways,” adding that Weiner’s behavior was “hard to comprehend.”
Speaking to the Times’ Mark Leibovich in an interview published earlier this month, Weiner dodged a pointed question about whether he was still doing the same things that had previously caused trouble to him and those around him. Instead, Weiner used the query as an opportunity to score political points against Trump.
“I’m not going to go down the path of talking about any of that. But I will say this: There’s no doubt that the Trump phenomenon has led a lot of people to say to me, ‘Boy, compared to inviting the Russians to come hack someone’s email, your thing seems almost quaint,'” Weiner said, referring to Trump’s self-described “sarcastic” request for the Russians to leak the contents of Clinton’s deleted emails.
Trump has shared his thoughts about the disgraced congressman on multiple occasions through his various sexting controversies and failed mayoral comeback bid.
“Wife Huma wants @RepWeiner to ‘pull a @billclinton by giving a tell-all interview.’ Unlike Clinton, Anthony is a sick puppy,” Trump tweeted on July 16, 2012, after writing, “he’s a sexual pervert & they can never be healed. Huma should drop him before it happens again.”
Asked by a Twitter user in July 2013 what advice he would give Abedin, Trump responded, “Take off!”
“Huma should dump the sicko Weiner. He is a calamity that is bringing her down with him,” Trump wrote on Sept. 23, 2013.
Months after launching his presidential campaign, Trump suggested that Weiner was a security risk.
“It came out that Huma Abedin knows all about Hillary’s private illegal emails,” Trump tweeted on Aug. 31, 2015. “Huma’s PR husband, Anthony Weiner, will tell the world.”
Granholm on Monday called Trump’s warnings about potentially compromised national secrets “ridiculous.”
“I think that Donald Trump and everyone else should respect the privacy of Huma Abedin who is, as you know, an utterly graceful, wonderful human being who’s going through a terrible situation,” the former Michigan governor said on MSNBC. “So I say let us respect their privacy, and it’s nonsense about classified information.”
Nolan McCaskill contributed to this article.