Hillary Clinton's e-mail saga: Clinton aide Huma Abedin is no stranger to high-profile scandals

Ms Huma Abedin, political staffer and aide to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, following the second presidential debate in St. Louis on Oct 9, 2016.
Ms Huma Abedin, political staffer and aide to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, following the second presidential debate in St. Louis on Oct 9, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Ms Huma Abedin does not like the spotlight. But the elegant senior adviser to Mrs Hillary Clinton has not always been able to steer clear of high-profile messes, such as her husband's sexting and a new Clinton e-mail row.

FBI director James Comey announced on Friday (Oct 28) that his agents are investigating a new bunch of e-mails, renewing an inquiry that the campaign thought had ended in July.

In fact, the State Department found some e-mails from her on husband Anthony Weiner's laptop. They separated in August after it emerged that the former lawmaker was facing a new round of sexting allegations.

Ms Abedin, 40, is the vice-chairman of Mrs Clinton's campaign. The two women have worked side by side for 20 years.

Mrs Clinton has often said that if she had a second daughter, it would be Ms Abedin, calling her smart, discreet and effective. Their relationship dates back to when Mrs Clinton was first lady.

Since the bombshell announcement of a renewed investigation on Friday - just 11 days before the presidential election - Ms Abedin has kept a low profile.

But Mrs Clinton's team of close advisers has leapt to Ms Abedin's defence.

"Huma's been completely cooperative with the authorities. She complied to the best of her ability, turned everything over that she had in her possession," campaign chief John Podesta said on CNN.

 
 

Born in Michigan to educator parents from India and Pakistan, Ms Abedin spent her childhood in Saudi Arabia before returning to the United States to attend graduate school.

She arrived as an intern at the White House in 1996 and was assigned to the Office of the First Lady.

She followed Mrs Clinton when the latter became a senator from New York in 2001 and became her chief of staff. She was her personal assistant when Mrs Clinton launched her failed 2008 presidential bid.

When Mrs Clinton became secretary of state in 2009, Ms Abedin became her chief of staff-assistant. Under a special arrangement, she was allowed to work as a consultant for Teneo, a consulting business related to the Clinton Foundation, while also working for the foundation.

In July 2010, she wed Mr Anthony Weiner, a Democratic congressman from New York. Mr Bill Clinton officiated at their wedding. The couple has a son, Jason, who was born in December 2011.

Ultimately Mr Weiner resigned from the post in May 2011, after acknowledging that he had sent pictures of himself in underwear to women on Twitter.

In May 2013, he plotted a political comeback, announcing his candidacy for New York mayor.

Two months later, new charges surfaced that he had continued to send lewd messages on social media using the nickname "Carlos Danger".

Ms Abedin, in a documentary on his failed campaign, said she loved her husband and had forgiven him. After that followed more sexting allegations, their separation and her departure for the Clinton campaign.

"The nature of our relationship has changed," Ms Abedin recently told Vogue Magazine, describing her enduring ties with Mrs Clinton.

"Over the years, we've shared stories about our lives, we've shared more meals than I can count, we've celebrated together, we've mourned together."

The two women travel together most of the time. Ms Abedin is never far from Mrs Clinton.

"With Huma, her grace, her intellect and her humility have been unmatched as I've watched her go from an aide to an adviser to one of the people at the top of my campaign," the Democrat presidential candidate raved.

In October 2015, Ms Abedin testified before a congressional committee on the September 2012 attack in Benghazi. She also was questioned by the FBI last May, in the investigation of the private server Mrs Clinton used as secretary of state.

In a Hillary Clinton administration, many expect that Ms Abedin would be a top contender for the key position of White House chief of staff.

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