Hillary Clinton confidante Huma Abedin — a linchpin in the Democratic nominee’s email and Clinton Foundation scandals — is in the spotlight again after separating from her husband over a new embarrassing sexting flap that’s giving Donald Trump more ammo in the bitter race for the Oval Office.

Abedin, who first interned for Clinton in 1996 and is now her campaign vice chairwoman, has quickly become a liability, political watchdogs say.

“That sigh of relief you hear is coming from the Trump campaign right now,” said Thomas Whalen, a political historian at Boston University. “The longer she (Abedin) stays around, the more of a distraction it will be, the more stories will be written, the more blog commentary there will be. Now it’s in Hillary Clinton’s best interest to jettison her or put her on the sidelines.”

Abedin announced yesterday she is finally leaving her husband of six years, former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner, after the New York Post reported he had sent a suggestive photo — with his 4-year-old son sleeping in bed next to him — to another woman on Twitter.

It is Weiner’s third sexting scandal. He was forced to resign his House seat in 2011 after accidentally posting a lewd photo of himself on Twitter. More photos emerged in 2013, when he tried to make a political comeback by running for New York City mayor.

Even Democrats admit the scandal is an unwelcome development that reminds voters of former President Bill Clinton’s own sex scandals.

“Obviously, marital infidelity is not something the Clinton campaign wants to spend a lot of time talking about,” said Democratic strategist Scott Ferson. “It’s not the kind of high-road things you want to be talking about heading into Labor Day.”

After weeks of letting Trump twist in his own self-inflicted controversies, the attention is back on the Democrats and the aide Clinton once called her “second daughter.”

Abedin, as deputy chief of staff at the State Department, is linked to helping her boss use an ill-advised private email server for government business. No charges were filed, but FBI Director James Comey called the setup “extremely careless.”

While serving as a Clinton Foundation consultant, Abedin was the go-to aide who set up meetings with big donors with the then-Secretary of State. She also went to New York to interview job applicants for a top post at the foundation.

“There’s a classic line in politics that if you’re explaining, you’re losing. And if you’re taking time to explain something like this, you’re off-message,” said Andy Smith, a political science professor at the University of New Hampshire.

Trump wasted no time yesterday attempting to tie the Weiner sex scandal to what he cast as Clinton’s “bad judgment.”

“Huma is making a very wise decision,” said Trump. “I know Anthony Weiner well, and she will be far better off without him. I only worry for the country in that Hillary Clinton was careless and negligent in allowing Weiner to have such close proximity to highly classified information.

“Who knows what he learned and who he told? It’s just another example of Hillary Clinton’s bad judgment,” Trump said. “It is possible that our country and its security have been greatly compromised by this.”


(c)2016 the Boston Herald

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