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Updated: June 9, 2011 21:24 IST

Sex scandal, pregnancy tests U.S. lawmaker's wife

AP
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Huma Abedin, wife of Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y, an aide to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, heads to a meeting at the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on Thursday. Photo: AP.
Huma Abedin, wife of Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y, an aide to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, heads to a meeting at the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on Thursday. Photo: AP.

Ms. Abedin still works for Hillary Clinton and is travelling overseas with the U.S. secretary of state as the scandal involving her husband, Anthony Weiner, continues to dominate U.S. news.

Huma Abedin helped then—first lady Hillary Clinton weather the storm surrounding President Bill Clinton’s affair with a White House intern. Today, Ms. Abedin is in the centre of a storm herself, with the disclosure of her congressman—husband’s online sex antics.

Ms. Abedin still works for Hillary Clinton and is travelling overseas with the U.S. secretary of state as the scandal involving her husband, Anthony Weiner, continues to dominate U.S. news.

While she has tried to stay out of the spotlight, the latest disclosure puts her in the public eye- She is pregnant.

It was the latest twist in a series of eye—popping revelations surrounding Mr. Weiner, a Democrat from New York, and the sex scandal that could force the onetime rising political star to resign from Congress. A spokeswoman confirmed on Wednesday that he had sent explicit photographs to women, as an X—rated photo Mr. Weiner purportedly took of himself made its way around several online gossip sites.

Sources close to Mr. Weiner and Ms. Abedin disclosed on Wednesday that the couple is expecting a child, their first. Philippe Reines, a State Department spokesman and Abedin friend, had no comment.

Ms. Abedin has no plans to speak publicly about her husband’s troubles. Friends describe Ms. Abedin as more saddened than angry over her husband’s behaviour, and she plans to try to help him, even though she believes he has a lot of work to do to redeem himself.

“She is a very strong woman,” Ms. Reines said.

The unfolding saga has cast an unwanted glare on the glamorous Ms. Abedin, one of the most private members of Ms. Clinton’s intensely loyal team of advisers.

Starting work as an intern for Ms. Clinton in 1996, Abedin helped the then—first lady amid the scandal surrounding M. Bill Clinton’s affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky and his impeachment in 1998 by Congress. But the roles have shifted, and it’s now Ms. Clinton’s turn to offer solace to Ms. Abedin.

Ms. Abedin was with Mr. Weiner in New York following his news conference on Monday in which he acknowledged sending inappropriate texts and photos to several women over about three years and publicly apologized to her for the pain he had caused.

“I love my wife very much, and we have no intention of splitting up over this,” Mr. Weiner said through tears.

Ms. Abedin did not appear at Mr. Weiner’s side as he faced the media, but friends said her absence did not mean she wasn’t supporting him during the crisis. They said she went ahead on Wednesday and accompanied Ms. Clinton to the Persian Gulf and Africa because she has not let the controversy get in the way of her professional duties.

“She is on the trip because it’s her job, and she hasn’t missed a beat throughout,” Ms. Reines said.

Ms. Abedin was present on Thursday at Ms. Clinton’s meeting with the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed. Ms. Abedin was smiling and shook hands with the crown prince and his entourage; she did not appear distressed.

Ms. Abedin’s State Department title, deputy chief of staff for operations, only hints at her pivotal role in Ms. Clinton’s professional life- She is part policy adviser, part strategist and a full—time multi-tasker who fields Ms. Clinton’s phone calls, organizes her briefing books, snaps photos of Ms. Clinton posing with admirers and runs interference with those who try to curry favour or monopolize Ms. Clinton’s time.

Ms. Abedin has played much the same role throughout Ms. Clinton’s many career iterations, following the former first lady from the White House to Congress when Ms. Clinton served as a senator from New York, then joining Ms. Clinton on the presidential campaign trail in 2008 and later at the State Department after President Barack Obama chose Ms. Clinton to be secretary of state.

Ms. Clinton has returned the loyalty, telling friends she considers Ms. Abedin almost a second daughter. Those who know the Clintons say that other than their daughter, Chelsea, and Ms. Hillary Clinton’s mother, Dorothy Rodham, there is no one closer to the couple than Ms. Abedin.

When Vogue Magazine featured Ms. Abedin in a photo spread in 2007, Ms. Clinton offered effusive praise.

“Huma 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,” Ms. Clinton told Vogue. “She is timeless. Her combination of poise, kindness and intelligence are matchless.”

Ms. Abedin and Mr. Weiner got to know one another during Ms. Clinton’s presidential campaign, clocking long hours travelling together across Iowa and other voting states. In an interview with The Associated Press in May 2008, as the primary season wound down and Mr. Obama was on track to win the nomination, Mr. Weiner said he would continue to be a Clinton campaign surrogate “largely because I’m dating Huma.”

The brash, media—hungry Mr. Weiner and the refined, discreet Ms. Abedin seemed an unlikely match at first. They are also an interfaith couple- Mr. Weiner is Jewish and a strong supporter of Israel in Congress, while Ms. Abedin - who was born in Michigan to parents of Pakistani and Indian descent, but grew up in Saudi Arabia and speaks fluent Arabic - is a practicing Muslim. But friends say they are intensely affectionate with one another and relish each other’s company.

The couple became engaged in 2009, shortly after he announced he would not run for New York City mayor that year in part because he wanted to “build a family.” They were married by Bill Clinton in a lavish garden wedding at the Oheka Castle on Long Island last July, Ms. Abedin wearing an elaborate gown designed by Oscar de la Renta, a personal friend.

Mr. Weiner called the former president yesterday to apologize for his online indiscretions, a person with knowledge of the call said.

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