Huma Abedin, Rep. Anthony Weiner’s unflappable wife
Huma Abedin, the wife of Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), has for years drawn notice in Washington. In a town that demands conservative conformity, she has been seen as a high-powered professional with exotic beauty and a closet full of Prada suits and heels.
Now, with her husband’s admission of sexually explicit Internet and phone exchanges with several women, Abedin, 35, joins a more pedestrian group — the wives of wayward and powerful husbands. And her dilemma may be even greater than previously thought after the New York Times reported late Wednesday that the senior State Department aide is pregnant with the couple’s first child.
The Times said that Abedin, who is very close to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, was in the early stages of pregnancy when the scandal unfolded. Abedin left Wednesday for a trip to Northern Africa with Clinton. A person close to the Clinton family confirmed the pregnancy to The Post on Wednesday.
When asked directly about the development late Wednesday, State Department official Philippe Reines, a longtime friend of Abedin’s, e-mailed from the Clinton trip in Abu Dhabi: “no comment.”
At his Monday afternoon news conference, in which Weiner admitted that he had lied about sending a lewd photo to a college-age woman, the seven-term congressman seemed to choke back tears as he apologized to Abedin. He said that he and his wife “have no intention of splitting up over this.”
As the controversy surrounding Weiner, 46, has heightened in recent days, Abedin has not missed a day of work, said people close to Abedin. Late Tuesday, she boarded a plane to Africa for a week-long, four-country visit.
Abedin did not stand at her husband’s side during the news conference, but “he was speaking for both of them,” said a friend close to Abedin, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the personal nature of the matter.
“She is committed to their marriage, and she loves her husband very much,” the friend said. “Obviously, they have work to do, but she’s committed.”
Over the past 15 years, Abedin has been a fixture in Clinton’s inner circle. She began as an intern, rose through the ranks as an aide to the then-first lady when Bill Clinton was in the White House, worked for Hillary Clinton in the Senate and then again served as an aide during Clinton’s presidential campaign.
Abedin is one of the few Clintonites to remain an insider from the White House to the State Department. In briefings, it is Abedin who quietly hands Clinton a glass of water when her voice breaks.
On the campaign trail in 2008, as Clinton ran for the presidency, Abedin was her poised confidante, a steady presence in a campaign punctuated by dramatic ups and downs.
While her official title is deputy chief of staff, Abedin is personally close to Clinton, an ever-present assistant and gatekeeper. She oversees planning and scheduling and advises on politics and policy, especially the Middle East.
“I have one daughter. But if I had a second daughter, it would [be] Huma,” Clinton said at a pre-wedding celebration for Abedin and Weiner in 2010.
Fluent in Arabic and raised in Saudi Arabia by an Indian father and Pakistani mother, Abedin is a practicing Muslim who dated actor John Cusack and has a Rolodex filled with the phone numbers of political titans and celebrities.
While she traipsed around the country during the campaign as Clinton’s traveling chief of staff, Weiner became a fixture on those trips, courting the George Washington University graduate who counts designer Oscar de la Renta as a friend.
Yet the couple always seemed an odd pair. She is Muslim, and he is Jewish. She is an enigmatic woman who was once romanced by George Clooney, while the brash congressman has chased the spotlight, becoming a favorite progressive attack dog.
In an e-mail to Vogue for a 2007 spread on her aide, Clinton wrote: “Abedin has the energy of a woman in her 20s, the confidence of a woman in her 30s, the experience of a woman in her 40s, and the grace of a woman in her 50s. She is timeless, her combination of poise, kindness, and intelligence are matchless.”
Reines said earlier this week that Abedin, who travels at least once a month, is “doing well under the circumstances,” and that her wide circle of family and friends has rallied around her.
“She is an incredibly strong woman,” he said. “And she’s obviously uncomfortable with the attention.”
July 10 marks the first anniversary of the couple’s lavish Long Island wedding, where Bill Clinton officiated.
The former president, himself no stranger to political and sexual scandals, had an awkward quip for the couple on their wedding day: Politicians can prove to be difficult spouses, he said, because it is “easy to distrust them, whatever their religion.”