By Aya Batrawy, Associated Press on March 7, 2022.
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — There is no easy way to tell the story of Huma Abedin. So she tells it herself, taking her voice to an international stage in the United Arab Emirates and speaking about her recently published memoir.
For more than two decades, Abedin was Hillary Clinton’s ever-staunch aide, starting as the First Lady’s junior intern in 1996 and becoming her trusted adviser and confidante when Clinton became a senator, secretary of state and, finally, the Democratic presidential candidate.
“I was sort of the invisible member of staff behind the main person. And I liked that,” Abedin told The Associated Press during a visit to Abu Dhabi on Monday. and I decided after a while that a lot of other people were telling my story and that I would choose to pick up that story myself. And if I didn’t write it, someone else would.
For someone who is content to play the supporting role, she now seems comfortable stepping out into the spotlight with her memoir, ‘Both/And: A Life in Many Worlds’, even if it means facing judgment. and the shame she faces for her marriage to former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner, whose confiscated laptop disrupted Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Abedin’s professional and personal life collided in 2016 when Weiner’s contact with a 15-year-old girl prompted the FBI to open an investigation because emails Clinton had sent Abedin were found on a computer. laptop that federal agents had seized from him. He was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison for his messages to the girl. After his release, he now plans to host a weekly radio show.
To tell his own story, Abedin, 46, wrote a memoir of just under 500 pages. Or, as she puts it, “I threw up on paper.” All my feelings, all my emotions, all the “Why did she stay?” Why did she leave? Did it change the result of the 2016 elections? »
A review of her book in the Guardian described her courtship to Weiner, who was her first love, as “watching a horror movie and yelling at the heroine not to enter the haunted house, knowing that , of course she will.”
Abedin, however, is quick to point out that his life has also been filled with extraordinary moments and privileges.
“I’ve never been the smartest, the prettiest, the best at anything. I knew one thing, though. When I walked into the White House in 1996, I was ready to outdo anyone. who and hard work got me where I am,” she said.
Born in the United States, Abedin moved to Saudi Arabia with her Indian father and Pakistani mother as a child and lived there until college, visiting the United States during summer vacations. That experience and background made her a “newbie” in Washington political circles, she said.
Her Muslim faith and her family were what she relied on the most during her darkest days.
“My parents, you know, taught us a lot about what our identity was and that was number one, you’re an American, number two, you’re a Muslim – and everything else is background music,” a- she declared. “As long as you had that base, as long as you had that place where you knew you could draw strength, where you knew you had a strong family to support you, you would be fine.”
Abedin’s interview with the AP came after she took the stage for the first Forbes 30/50 Summit. Dressed in an emerald-colored dress, her raven hair flowing in soft curls, her presence drew young female admirers and requests for selfies and photos.
All the while, she kept a close eye on her 10-year-old son with her on the trip, letting him know she’d be nearby for another interview.
“When Anthony was in jail for almost two years, and I was really a single mom and I didn’t have (my son’s) dad around me, I have to tell you, it was really, really difficult,” she said. “I mean, there were days when I wasn’t even sure I was going to make it through the day.”
Abedin lost his father at a young age to illness and wants his son to grow up knowing his. She said it took a lot of hard work to get to a place where she and Weiner are present in their son’s life, despite their separation since 2016.
“Even though his dad and I aren’t together and won’t be together, we’ll be in each other’s lives forever and we had to figure out how to work together,” she said.
Abedin remains Clinton’s chief of staff, a role that keeps her busy.
“We’re partners in crime – in adventures,” Abedin says of his relationship with Clinton. Abedin is currently working on a show for Apple TV+ based on Clinton’s book with her daughter, Chelsea, called “The Book of Gutsy Women.”
Abedin and Clinton shared a stage last year for the first time at a 92nd Street Y event, with Clinton supporting Abedin as she spoke about her book, which is full of praise and admiration for her boss. Clinton said the FBI investigation in the final weeks of her campaign had an impact on the outcome of the election, which Donald Trump won. She said she felt angry and bewildered by the FBI investigation, but never considered firing Abedin, despite people urging her to.
“Everyone who supported me knew this was a particularly damaging event, but why would I fire Huma? So, of course, I didn’t. And wouldn’t at all,” Clinton said.
Abedin also told the AP that she remained staunchly loyal to Clinton.
“I’m lucky, you know, she’s a friend and a mentor, a boss, and she’s always been there for me, and I’ll always be there for her,” Abedin said.
Follow Aya Batrawy on Twitter: twitter.com/ayaelb