Huma Mahmood Abedin is an American political staffer who served as travelling chief of staff and "body woman" during Hillary Clinton presidential campaign 2008 and vice chair of Clinton’s presidential campaign 2016. Earlier Huma served as Clinton's aide and personal advisor during the latter’s successful US Senate campaign in New York in 2000. Born to a Muslim family of Indian descent, Huma stepped into journalism as assistant editor of Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs founded by her father Syed Zainul Abedin. Simultaneously she started working in the White House as an intern, serving the then-First Lady Hillary Clinton, who eventually became her mentor and a mother-figure. Huma worked as back-up to Clinton's personal aide for many years before being officially inducted as Clinton's aide and personal advisor during the successful 2000 U.S. Senate campaign of Clinton in New York. She remained a close aide of Clinton during the latter’s stint at the State Department as also during her presidential campaigns. Huma came under scrutiny during the Clinton’s email controversy and probe and also garnered attention for her marriage with scandalous American former Democratic congressman Anthony Weiner.
Childhood & Early Life
Huma Mahmood Abedin was born on July 28, 1976, in Kalamazoo, Michigan, US to Syed Zainul Abedin and Saleha Mahmood Abedin. Her parents, both educators, were born in colonial India. While her father’s birthplace presently falls in New Delhi, India, her mother’s birthplace falls in present-day Pakistan.
Both her parents obtained PhD from the University of Pennsylvania. Her father, an Islamic and Middle Eastern scholar, founded the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs in 1978 and the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs in 1979. Her mother presently serves the Dar Al-Hekma College in Jeddah as an associate professor of sociology and dean. Huma has a brother and a sister.
Huma relocated to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia with her parents at age two. She grew up there and studied at a British girls' school before moving back to the US for college studies. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree as journalism major with a minor in political science from the George Washington University.
Following her father’s death, her mother started managing the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs. Huma wanted to become a journalist and work in the White House press office.
She practices Islam. She speaks fluently in English, Hindi-Urdu and Arabic languages.
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While attending George Washington University, in 1996, she started working as an associate editor of the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs as also as an intern in the White House where she was assigned to the then First Lady Hillary Clinton. She worked with the journal till 2008 while serving as the back-up to Clinton's personal aide for many years.
She was officially delegated as aide and personal advisor of Clinton during the latter’s thriving U.S. Senate campaign in New York in 2000. With time she became a close aide of Clinton and remained travelling chief of staff and “body woman” of Clinton during the latter’s campaign for the Democratic nomination at the time of 2008 presidential election.
During Clinton’s tenure as the 67th United States Secretary of State from early 2009 to early 2013, Huma served as deputy chief of staff to Clinton in the State Department. Such appointment of Huma was made under a "special government employee" arrangement that permitted her to work simultaneously as consultant for private clients as well. This saw her working as consultant for the Clinton Foundation and Teneo. According to a New York Times report, she was also allowed to work from home in New York City instead of working at the headquarters of the State Department in Washington. Huma had to face several oppositions for her outside employment while serving the State Department.
She found place in the "40 under 40" list of a "new generation of civic leaders" and "rising stars of American politics" of TIME magazine in 2010.
Michele Bachmann and four other Republican members of Congress claimed in a letter to the State Department Inspector General, dated June 13, 2012, that Huma’s father, mother and brother were associated with operatives and/or organizations of Society of the Muslim Brothers. They also questioned why Huma was not being disqualified for a security clearance alleging that her immediate family was associated with foreign extremist organisations. Such claims and accusations were however debunked later and garnered censuring from political figures like John McCain and Nancy Pelosi.
The 2012 Benghazi attack took place while she was serving the State Department. She later had to appear before the House Select Committee on Benghazi on October 16, 2015, and testify in a closed session, as one of Clinton’s aides and former senior official of Clinton in the State Department.
Following her stint at the State Department, while continuing her work with the Clinton Foundation, Huma started working as director of the transition team which aided Clinton in returning to her private life. Huma also established Zain Endeavors LLC, a private consulting firm.
The unsuccessful 2016 presidential campaign of Clinton saw Huma serving as it’s vice chairwoman since 2015. She also served as personal assistant of Clinton in 2015.
According to a February 2016 report of The Washington Post, a subpoena was issued to the Clinton Foundation in fall of 2015 by the United States Department of State. It focussed on documents with regard to projects of the charity that might have required federal government approval while Clinton was serving as secretary of state. It even sought records of aide of Clinton, Huma, who was also serving Clinton Foundation. Huma also got entangled in the Hillary Clinton email controversy and probe.
The FBI announced on October 28, 2016 that while investigating on Huma’s husband Anthony Weiner’s sexting scandal involving a 15-year-old girl, they discovered emails in Anthony’s laptop which were related to the Hillary Clinton email controversy, which again brought Huma into the picture. This prompted FBI Director James Comey to reopen the email controversy investigation to see if any potentially-classified information were included in the e-mails sent by Huma from the laptop. A search warrant was obtained on October 30, 2016 to examine such emails. While Huma cooperated with the investigating officials, the probe was later closed sans any criminal charges on Clinton as no evidence of political bias was found.
Family & Personal Life
Huma got engaged to Anthony Weiner, the then Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from New York's 9th district, in May 2009. Their wedding ceremony held on July 10, 2010 was officiated by former US President Bill Clinton. The couple’s son Jordan Zain Weiner was born in December 2011.
Following new sexting allegations against Anthony, Huma, on August 29, 2016, announced that she was separating from him. She again announced in early 2017 that she wants divorce from Anthony as also sole physical custody of their son. She later filed for divorce on May 19 that year after Anthony pled guilty. In January 2018, the couple however withdrew their divorce case from court mentioning that they took decision to settle the divorce privately for the sake of their son.