NEW YORK—Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin said Monday that she is leaving her husband, Anthony Weiner, after the former New York congressman was accused in yet another sexting scandal.
“After long and painful consideration and work on my marriage, I have made the decision to separate from my husband,” Abedin, vice chair of Clinton’s presidential campaign, said in a statement issued by the campaign. “Anthony and I remain devoted to doing what is best for our son, who is the light of our life.”
The New York Post published photos late Sunday that it said Weiner, a Democrat, had sent last year to a woman. The tabloid identified her only as a “40-something divorcee” who lives “out West” and is a supporter of Republican Donald Trump.
The photos included several shots of Weiner bare-chested and two close-ups of his bulging underpants. In one of the pictures, Weiner is lying on a bed with his toddler son while he is texting the woman, according to the Post. The tabloid also ran sexually suggestive text messages that it said the two exchanged.
Weiner told the Post that he and the woman “have been friends for some time.”
“She has asked me not to comment except to say that our conversations were private, often included pictures of her nieces and nephews and my son and were always appropriate,” he told the newspaper.
Weiner didn’t return a call, text or email from The Associated Press. Weiner deleted his Twitter account Monday.
The Post didn’t say how it had obtained the photographs and messages.
Abedin, 40, is a longtime aide and confidante to Clinton who is often referred to as the candidate’s second daughter. She is widely expected to play an important role in a Clinton administration if the Democrat is elected president.
The marital split spilled into the presidential campaign, with Trump seizing on it to accuse Clinton of “bad judgment.” He suggested that Weiner might have seen and spread classified information, but offered no evidence to support the allegation.
Abedin has been under scrutiny during the probe into Clinton’s use of a private email system while she was secretary of state. Federal prosecutors declined to file charges in the investigation, but FBI Director James Comey said Clinton and her aides had been “extremely careless” in their handling of classified information.
Weiner quit Congress in 2011 after it discovered that he was sending women sexually explicit messages. Weiner ran for mayor of New York in 2013, but that bid collapsed after it was reported that he had continued to sext women.
His persistent sexting, despite the consequences, disgusted and mystified voters. Some psychology experts, while cautioning they haven’t treated him, suggested his behaviour smacks of extreme impulsiveness, compulsion or a form of addiction.
“Impulsivity is something that a lot of people really struggle with,” said Jeannette Stern, a New York therapist. While there are various approaches people can try to change such behaviour, she noted, “they have to really be willing to stop.”
Since his mayoral bid, Weiner has remained in the public eye, commenting on politics on a local cable news show. A documentary offering a cringe-inducing inside view of his mayoral campaign and its unraveling played in theatres earlier this year and is set to air on Showtime this fall.
In the documentary, Weiner allowed the camera crew extraordinary access even after the new scandal broke. His wife appeared stricken and deeply uncomfortable as the cameras continued to roll.
Abedin began working for the former first lady as a White House intern and became a trusted aide and adviser as Clinton won a seat in the Senate representing New York in 2000, ran for president in 2008 and served as President Barack Obama’s secretary of state.
Abedin and Weiner were married in 2010 at a wedding officiated by former President Bill Clinton. They have a 4-year-old son, Jordan.
Frequently by Clinton’s side, Abedin was spotted outside fundraisers for the Democratic presidential nominee on Sunday in the Hamptons, on New York’s Long Island.