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It’s been nearly two years since former New York congressman and rising political star Anthony Weiner’s dramatic — and humiliating — fall from grace.
The Democrat resigned from public office in June 2011 after accidentally blasting a salacious photo — meant to be a private message to a 21-year-old college student following him on Twitter — to the rest of his followers (and the world). More incriminating images and women surfaced, more embarrassment ensued. Following an initial denial, he ‘fessed up and stepped down, retreating to a quieter life with wife (and Hillary Clinton aide) Huma Abedin, who at the time was pregnant with their first child, son Jordan.
In a new interview with The New York Times Magazine, the couple — staging an apparent comeback to reclaim their power couple status — open up about Weiner’s disastrous downfall and his possible bid to be Big Apple mayor, among other revelations. Here are eight:
1. Huma Abedin believed her husband — at first. When the news broke, courtesy of the late conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart, Weiner recalled: “I lied to her. The lies to everyone else were primarily because I wanted to keep it from her.” Meanwhile, Abedin said she supported him 100 percent. Weiner ultimately came clean during a Hamptons getaway. “I have a choppy memory of it, but she was devastated,” he revealed. “She immediately said, ‘Well you’ve got to stop lying to everyone else too.’ … It was brutal. It was completely out of control.”
2. Abedin likely solicited guidance from Clinton. “We’ve had a lot of personal conversations, none of which I feel comfortable talking about,” she told New York Times Magazine. “But what I will say about her, and for that matter her entire family, the unconditional love and support they have given me has been a real gift. And I think she would be O.K. with me saying this, because I know she has said this before: at the end of the day, at the very least, every woman should have the ability and the confidence and the choice to make whatever decisions she wants to make that are right for her and not be judged by it.”
3. Weiner’s longtime friend, Jon Stewart, empathized. The acerbic Daily Show host, who could not resist poking fun at the situation on his show, maintained that the scandal took him by surprise, observing: “It did, in that you never expect the person you know to be the guy on TV in the middle of the quagmire, but it didn’t surprise me in that we’re all human. So it’s not like, ‘My God, I can’t believe the depravity!’ First of all, in terms of these types of scandals, the depravity was on a very low scale.”
4. Stewart also called Weiner to offer advice, and defended the negative press. He recalled telling the disgraced politico: “As low as you are, please understand that what’s happening to you right now isn’t really happening to you, it’s happening to whatever caricature we’ve all created of you. You have your own responsibility in this, but it’s not to us. I know it’s hard to separate yourself from that, but I hope you can at some level.'”
5. Abedin didn’t want Weiner to resign. But Weiner aimed to focus on family and saving their marriage. “My career seemed the least important of all those other things,” he said.
6. The catalyst for Weiner’s dirty deeds: validation! Quoth Weiner, who began seeing a therapist post-scandal: “I was in a world and a profession that had me wanting people’s approval. By definition, when you are a politician, you want people to like you, you want people to respond to what you’re doing, you want to learn what they want to hear so you can say it to them.” At the end of the day, “I knew when I did it, almost from the moment I did it, there was no good way for it to end. When I sent that fateful tweet.”
7. After a “long time,” Abedin was finally able to forgive. She explained: “There was a deep love there, but it was coupled with a tremendous feeling of betrayal. It took a lot of work, both mentally and in the way we engage with each other, for me to get to a place where I said: ‘O.K., I’m in. I’m staying in this marriage.'”
8. She thinks Weiner should run for NYC mayor. So alleged Weiner, who is mulling whether to enter the race to succeed Michael Bloomberg, to the writer Jonathan Van Meter. But pollster David Binder, whom he had hired to test the waters, told Weiner (who declined to divulge Binder’s results) that he would be “the underdog” in any election in which he participated.
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