Longtime Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin opened up about her troubled relationship with convicted sex offender Anthony Weiner, sharing the guilt she feels over Weiner’s personal and legal woes potentially costing Clinton the 2016 presidential election.
Speaking out to CBS Sunday Morning for the first time about her new memoir Both/And: A Life in Many Worlds, Abedin had already made news with the book’s revelation that an unnamed senator forcibly kissed her back in 2005. “Then, in an instant, it all changed,” she wrote of the encounter. “He plopped down to my right, put his left arm around my shoulder, and kissed me, pushing his tongue into my mouth, pressing me back on the sofa.”
Despite writing that she was “utterly shocked” and “pushed him away,” Abedin told CBS anchor Norah O’Donnell that she considered the encounter an “uncomfortable situation” rather than a sexual assault.
“In my own personal opinion, no, did I feel like he was assaulting me in that moment? I didn’t, it didn’t feel that way,” Abedin said. “It felt like I needed to extricate myself from the situation. And he also spent a lot of time apologizing and making sure I was OK and we were actually able to rebalance our relationship.”
She also went into intimate details about the embarrassment she suffered at the hands of her then-husband Weiner’s sexting scandals and extramarital affairs. Having already resigned from Congress in 2011 after he was caught sending Twitter messages and photos to women, Weiner imploded his 2013 New York City mayoral run when it was revealed he had been using the alias “Carlos Danger” to send explicit photos to a woman.
“Well, my world exploded again, in the most unexpected, shocking, humiliating, horrible way,” Abedin recounted. “We crossed a threshold. It was just surviving at that point.”
Abedin also discussed the now-infamous press conference in which she said she had “forgiven” Weiner over the scandal, saying she “purposely” didn’t take anyone’s calls telling her not to do it—including Clinton’s.
In the end, Weiner finished last in the Democratic mayoral primary, and by 2016 the couple had separated. Abedin also revealed that prior to their separation, she discovered that Weiner’s affairs weren’t just online.
“I found communications with women, and it was quite devastating,” she said, adding that he was having physical interactions with other women in their apartment.
“It was that moment that I realized the way I had been handling my response to him was not working,” Abedin explained.
Observing that it was just “betrayal after betrayal” with Weiner, Abedin also noted that she was concerned that she could potentially lose her young child after a picture of Weiner in bed with their son was leaked, triggering a Child Protective Services investigation.
It was a one-two punch in 2016, however, that still haunts Abedin to this day. Following the leaked photo, Weiner was caught sexting an underage girl, eventually leading FBI agents to find emails involving Clinton on his laptop. Those emails would prompt then-FBI director James Comey to reopen an investigation into Clinton just 11 days before the election.
“This man Weiner was going to ruin me. And now he was going to jeopardize Hillary Clinton’s chances of winning the presidency,” she wrote in her book.
During their CBS interview, O’Donnell observed that Clinton could actually be in her second term as president right now, causing Abedin to reflect on her ex-husband’s potential role in Donald Trump’s victory.
“That is a thought that crosses my mind probably more than it crosses hers,” she said. “But that is something that lives here [pointing to her heart] that I think I’m gonna take to my grave.”
Asked if she felt there was something she could have done at the time to fix it, Abedin replied that she had “reconciled” herself to the idea that Clinton’s loss “was not all my fault.”
“I lived with that. I did. I don’t believe that anymore. It’s more a sense of an ache in the heart, that it didn’t have to be” she added. “And also, my belief that she would have been an extraordinary president, that she really would have, and what it meant for women and girls, not just in this country but around the world.”
As for her relationship with Weiner, who served 18 months in prison for the underage texts, she stated that “we’re good” and that she’s no longer angry with him.
“I can’t live in that space anymore,” Abedin concluded. “I tried that. It almost killed me.”