Longtime Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, accustomed to spending her life behind the scenes, told ABC’s “The View” on Monday that she’s taken control of her story with the release of her new memoir, “Both/And.”
“After 25 years of living most of my life in public service and in public, I felt like somebody else was telling my story. And if you let somebody else tell your story, they’re writing your history. And for me, writing the book, was just such an incredible therapy,” she said in an exclusive daytime interview.
“I thought it’s a good story to share, and maybe it’ll help some women and some brown girls and some Muslims,” added Abedin, who is of Indian and Pakistani descent.
Among reported details in her new memoir, Abedin recalls an incident from her twenties — she’s now 45 — in which she says, following a Washington dinner that she writes was attended by “a few senators and their aides,” one senator invited her up to his apartment for coffee, asked her to get comfortable on the couch, and then kissed her without her consent — describing it not as a “sexual assault” as some headlines have stated, but as an “uncomfortable situation.” Some have said she should identify the person in case others might make similar allegations.
“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,” she writes in the book, saying the senator apologized when she pushed him away and said he had “misread” her “all this time.”
“Why not name him?” asked “The View” co-hosts Joy Behar and Sunny Hostin.
“I chose to include my full truth,” Abedin replied. “I did bury that incident. I think back in the 2000s — that is just how you had to act. I mean, to me, one of the surprising things to myself is that I apologized, myself. The way I reacted is, I said, ‘I’m sorry,’ and I left, and I don’t think this is you know exclusive to being in politics,” she said.
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She defended her decision not to name the senator, saying this is her story, not his.
“I totally buried the story until I was watching Doctor [Christine Blasey] Ford on TV — literally being questioned for her convenient memory,” she said, apparently sarcastically, referring to Ford’s testimony during Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings, “and as I see her being questioned, that memory comes flooding back to me.”
Abedin first entered “Hillaryland,” as she called it, when she started as a White House intern in 1996 before following the former Democratic nominee for president first back to the Senate and then to the State Department. She served as a top adviser to Clinton on both of her campaigns for president but not without some costs to her own personal life and mental health, she says.
“When you put this book down and read the last page, and maybe half the country will disagree with me, but this woman is an extraordinary human being, aside from the fact that she was the most qualified person, in my opinion, to ever run for president. Full stop. Period,” she said of Clinton.
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“The View” co-hosts asked about a detail in the book in which Abedin describes considering walking off a subway platform in 2019, and Abedin went back to her headspace in the wake of the 2016 election.
“I did not have balance in my life. My work was my life for much of it. And it was only when I stepped off the treadmill and realized I had to deal with all this anger — because I had so much anger and bitterness towards my spouse for so much of my early marriage and after, you know, the first scandal,” she said. “I just wanted my life back.”
“At the end of the campaign, I was kind of on my own. I was alone, a single parent, and so it was I had my hard moment, and that’s when I realized I needed help. And I got it,” she said.
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Following the sexting scandals of her then-husband, embattled former Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., Abedin became enveloped in controversy when her emails became a large part of the 2016 presidential campaign after the FBI announced days before the election that investigators would re-examine Clinton’s use of a private email server. It was determined that Abedin had forwarded some emails to personal devices used by both she and her then-husband.
Co-host Sara Haines asked Abedin to respond to those who might question why she stayed with her disgraced ex-husband for so many years.
“I think a lot of people now when they look back at my marriage, they’re looking at it from 2021 perspective, which is hindsight is 20/20,” she replied. “If I’d written this book in 2017 or 2018, when maybe it would have been more newsy, I think it would have been an angry or bitter book because I had to go through that process.”