A Life in Many Worlds Hillary Clinton’s top aide Huma Abedin reveals where her loyalties lie

Abedin’s story is in many ways the great American dream: the daughter of immigrants, both academics, she never planned to work in government. “I was 21 and I wasn’t sure I was a Democrat,” she says.

At first, Abedin wanted to try the White House press office, but she didn’t and was sent, instead, to the first lady’s office. “My mom, at the time, said, ‘You know, Plan A didn’t work, but maybe Plan B will. “And Plan B turned out to be very good.”

Working in Hillaryland, as the first lady’s office was then known, was a “sink or swim environment.”

“It was intense, and the stakes were very high.”

It is clear that Abedin’s allegiances remain largely with the former foreign minister. AP

A job appeared to help Clinton on a trip to Argentina and Abedin took her, leaving a family wedding the first of many personal occasions she would sacrifice for her career. “I wasn’t qualified, I was the youngest in the office, but I went for it because I wanted to do it.”

Things didn’t always go as planned: Abedin once dropped Clinton’s dry-cleaning bag from a helicopter into the Hudson River (incredibly, she managed to get both. And Dry the clothes, Clinton wasn’t the wisest) and once Clinton gave a wrong speech to read aloud.

“There were many moments where I wasn’t sure I would make it. My mind was constantly focused on solving problems. Still.”

It is this endless stream of crises that I describe in the book as “like drinking water from a non-stop fire hose.”

Clinton’s diary was titled living historyIn many ways, Abedin lived history alongside her, riding the gun with Clinton during her husband’s impeachment trial, her rise to the New York Senate, the 9/11 attacks, her first time in office and the 2016 defeat to Donald Trump.

Abedin says US policy has changed dramatically since she began working in the White House. “When I started, it felt like politics was a cause,” she says. “There were a lot of important things going on in the country, and the United States was seen as the only superpower in the world.”

They disturb examples: Clinton giving her “Women’s Rights Are Human Rights” speech in Beijing, Bill Clinton’s historic visit to Northern Ireland in 1995. Abedin herself visited refugee camps in Macedonia with Clinton in the wake of the wars in Bosnia and Kosovo.

She recalls her early years in government: “There was an extraordinary sense of opportunity, hope, and possibility.” “Despite our political division, it was not what it is today.”

There has been, she says, “a severe polarization of views and a deterioration of the discussion”.

In 2012, Abedin found herself amid persistent rumors that she was herself a Muslim spy, an episode she described as “extremely distressing”.

“Sometimes we forget that as nations, we depend on each other,” she says. “And it is the duty of our leaders to find a way to work together.” This is one of the reasons why she wrote about her faith in the book.

“The average American doesn’t know much about my faith,” she says. “People have read the book and said, ‘Oh, you believe in Jesus?’ “Islam has turned into a bogeyman, certainly in politics, and I wanted to demystify it.”

She says faith made her go through her darkest days. I mean, what is Islamic prayer? In the end, it’s meditation, it’s just taking a step back from the world and reflecting on your thoughts, actions, and intentions. It is a conversation between you and a higher power.”

She had her share of those dark days. In 2016, a week before the election, James Comey and the FBI reopened their investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails after they found correspondence between Clinton and Abedin on Winner’s computer, which had been seized as part of his criminal misconduct. Although no suspects were eventually found, there was concern that the emails contained confidential information.

“I was basically hollow at that point,” she says. “It was selfish to feel anything. We had a deadline of November 8th, the task of electing Hillary.”

This task, of course, did not work. Abedin recalls the “citywide mourning” she witnessed the next day, walking the streets of Manhattan. She said her first conversation with Clinton on November 9 was a lesson in resilience.

“The first thing she said to me before getting into her car to go home was, ‘I need to help all these guys. I have to help people get back on their feet again.”

Abedin with Hillary Clinton, then US Secretary of State, in 2011 – the year Abedin’s husband scandal turned her world upside down. GT

Clinton taught her radical empathy, she says, and she also credits this with her own survival. Those looking for notes spilling tea on Clinton will need to look elsewhere; It is clear that Abedin’s allegiances remain largely with the former foreign minister.

“She wakes up every day, motivated by how to make the lives of every man, woman and child better, fairer and more prosperous. Many of the decisions I made were based on understanding what it means to be in someone else’s place.”

When Weiner’s photos were leaked, Abedin had to force herself to “stop buying pain” – that is, actively looking for ways to feel bad – and begin to understand her then-husband’s behavior. “You have to have a radical empathy to understand what’s going on, because a lot of behaviors aren’t meant for you otherwise.”

Unambiguously, the parallels between Abedin’s personal life and that of her president and husband Bill Clinton are clear, but with one major difference: Abedin eventually left Wiener, though he sided with him at first. It is an experience that she recounts frankly and in detail in the book. “People naturally wondered why I stayed [at first]’, she says. ‘This was my chance to explain my side.’

Given her experience and the company she maintains, it is not farfetched to imagine that Abedin may one day harbor aspirations for political office. She quickly shuts down the idea.

“I made a mistake on my first day of interviewing by saying that this was my year of saying yes,” she says with a laugh. “And then I was asked if I was running for president. So… I said yes. But I don’t really see myself doing that.

“I mean, I want to be open to adventures and new ideas. But I don’t think I will ever be separated from my boss; Hillaryland is a club that comes with a lifetime membership.”

She says she feels more comfortable helping other women achieve their political dreams. “If there’s another woman working, that’s where I can see myself helping. But it’s really hard. Part of writing the book is just reminding people of what Hillary has been up against, and in honor of the history she’s made.”

Once again, Abedin’s story took a back seat – but that’s the way she likes it.

No/And: A Life in Many Worlds (Simon & Schuster) is out now.

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