As the Weiner campaign itself bumps up the spectacle of a campaign in disarray, The New York Times has a look at just how involved the Clintons have been in helping — and protecting — Huma Abedin. Abedin, described in the paper as a "beloved surrogate daughter to the Clintons," took a lot of public heat recently for her decision to stand by her husband in a press conference addressing the new round of sexting allegations. It's no secret that Hillary Clinton is something of a model for Abedin — both as a wife who stayed with her husband through a sex scandal, and as a politician who launched her own career after doing so — but now we know a bit more on just how deep that interplay runs.
Here's why, in a nutshell, from the Times:
There is a long-held belief within their circle that any attacks on top Clinton loyalists are akin to attacks on the former first couple themselves. And the State Department had fashioned Mr. Reines’s role as communications chief to include not just defending Mrs. Clinton, but also defending her chief lieutenants and diplomats.
The Times piece goes through a bunch of examples of the Clintons' silent hand in the Abedin-Weiner rehabilitation strategy, mainly personified by Abedin's friend and Clinton adviser Philippe I. Reines (who also seems to be the main source for the piece). But one, referring to a strange Weiner campaign video just this week, explains why the growing presence of Abedin by her husband's side suddenly backed off a bit in recent days:
This past weekend, Mr. Reines advised Ms. Abedin against participating in Mr. Weiner’s newest campaign video, which was being filmed at the couple’s Park Avenue South apartment, itself owned by a longtime Clinton donor. Mr. Reines and Ms. Abedin agreed that she should leave her home to avoid even appearing in the background of any scene in the video, according to people familiar with their conversation, who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid straining ties with those involved.
Abedin, of course, has a reputation to care for herself. Aside from her role (or non-role) in the disintegrating Weiner public rehab effort, Senator Chuck Grassley is pushing forward with an investigation into her previous part-time State Department employment arrangement, during which she also worked part-time for a private company with Clinton ties. As that's ongoing, she still works for Clinton, though she decided to take a five-week vacation in August to help her husband's mayoral campaign. Abedin has spent the past few days working in Washington.
Meanwhile, the goodwill many among the Clintons' closest advisors extend to Abedin definitely does not extend to Abedin's husband. Doug Band, a Clinton adviser in the inner circle, doesn't seem to want anything to do with him: "when Ms. Abedin brought the couple’s infant son, Jordan, to visit Mr. Band at his apartment, Mr. Band specifically requested that Mr. Weiner wait outside in the car." And that was before the latest round of scandal emerged.