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Longtime aide Huma Abedin like 'second daughter' to Clinton

Associated Press Associated Press 30/08/2016 By KEN THOMAS and CATHERINE LUCEY, Associated Press
In this photo taken Jan. 5, 2011, then-New York Rep. Anthony Weiner and his wife, Huma Abedin, an aide to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, are pictured after a ceremonial swearing in of the 112th Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin says she is separating from husband Anthony Weiner after another sexting revelation involving the former congressman from New York. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak) © The Associated Press In this photo taken Jan. 5, 2011, then-New York Rep. Anthony Weiner and his wife, Huma Abedin, an aide to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, are pictured after a ceremonial swearing in of the 112th Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin says she is separating from husband Anthony Weiner after another sexting revelation involving the former congressman from New York. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. — Often called Hillary Clinton's second daughter, Huma Abedin is a deeply trusted aide who is rarely far apart from the Democratic presidential nominee. She's also a confidante subjected to a similar level of attention and scrutiny as her longtime boss.

Abedin announced Monday she was separating from her husband, Anthony Weiner, after another sexting incident involving the former New York congressman.

Weiner, a Democrat, resigned his seat amid a 2011 media firestorm that erupted after he texted lewd photos of himself to several women. When he ran for mayor of New York City two years later, his campaign stumbled when it was revealed he was still sexting women who were not his wife.

The 41-year-old Abedin, now vice chairwoman of Clinton's campaign, began working for the former first lady while a student at George Washington University in 1996. Her role deepened as Clinton won a New York Senate seat in 2000, ran for president in 2008 and later served as President Barack Obama's secretary of state.

"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," Clinton said in a recent profile of Abedin in Vogue.

With roughly two months to Election Day, Abedin is Clinton's near-constant travel companion and has long exerted great influence within Clinton's inner circle — a role in which she is expected to continue should Clinton win the White House. Few major decisions in the campaign are made without Abedin's input, and she remains an important back-channel in the Clinton orbit of friends, political allies and donors.

Stylish and poised, Abedin carries enough clout within Clinton circles to headline high-profile fundraisers, as she did in 2015 alongside Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour in Paris, raising money from Americans living abroad. She's close enough to the Clintons that former President Bill Clinton officiated when Abedin and Weiner married in 2010.

Before The New York Post published photos late Sunday that it said Weiner sent last year to a woman identified as a "40-something divorcee," Abedin was spotted outside a Clinton fundraiser at the Southampton home of philanthropist Marcia Riklis.

A friend of Abedin, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the breakup, said she was with her young son, Jordan, and her family members in the Hamptons during the weekend. Abedin's friend said the separation from Weiner had been brewing for some time.

At the State Department, Abedin served as a jack-of-all-trades to Clinton, helping her with everything from scheduling meetings and arranging phone calls around the globe to offering fashion advice. In an early morning email to Clinton in August 2009, Abedin advised her to "wear a dark color today. Maybe the new dark green suit. Or blue."

Wearing a green suit, Clinton later held a joint news conference with the Jordanian foreign minister.

That behind-the-scenes role has also put Abedin firmly in the spotlight, often drawing unwanted attention. Her email exchanges with Clinton were closely scrutinized during the Justice Department's investigation into Clinton's use of a private email server. Federal prosecutors ultimately declined to issue charges in the cases.

Congressional Republicans have raised questions about whether Abedin skirted ethics guidelines during her 2012 work as an adviser to Clinton while she also worked for Teneo Holdings, a consulting firm co-founded by Doug Band, a former aide to former President Bill Clinton.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, has repeatedly questioned Abedin's designation as a special government employee, pushing for more disclosure about the decision that allowed her to hold both jobs.

Republicans have also alleged that donors to the foundation got preferential treatment while Clinton was secretary of state. Last week, the group Judicial Watch released several previously undisclosed exchanges turned over by Abedin that included a 2009 message to Abedin from Band — an official at the Clinton Foundation at the time — seeking a meeting with Hillary Clinton for the crown prince of Bahrain.

Crown Prince Salman had made a $32 million commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative, a program run by the foundation. Copies of Clinton's calendar obtained by The Associated Press confirm the meeting occurred in her State Department office on June 26, 2009. The State Department has said there was nothing improper or unusual about the messages with Clinton Foundation staff.

Like her boss, Abedin has at times come under criticism laced with conspiracy. Some conservatives have suggested Abedin has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamic political movement, citing her listing as an assistant editor of the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, a publication edited by her mother.

In a recent fact-check piece, The Washington Post called the publication a "sober academic journal" and said the accusations of affiliation were "bogus."

It was those kind of attacks that led Weiner to recently tell The New York Times it was "gut-wrenching" to watch his wife dragged into the political fray. "I've never seen a staffer targeted like that," he said.

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Associated Press writer Jennifer Peltz contributed from New York.

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On Twitter, follow Ken Thomas at: http://twitter.com/kthomasDC and Catherine Lucey at http://twitter.com/catherine_lucey

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This version corrects Abedin's age to 41, not 40.

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