July 25th, 2013
08:36 AM ET
1 year ago

Sources: Huma Abedin considered leaving Weiner last fall

Updated 11:07 a.m. ET, 7/25

(CNN) - While Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin say they're trying to move their marriage past Weiner's repeated sexting scandals, friends of Abedin's told CNN that upon the former congressman's confession to his wife last fall that he had relapsed into exchanging lewd messages, Abedin was furious and seriously considered ending the marriage.

She was done and ready to leave him, the friend said. Another friend said she was "this close to walking out the door."

After some reflection, friends said, Abedin felt that taking their toddler son from his father was not what was best for him, and ultimately decided to continue with therapy in an effort to heal their relationship and help him with work through his issues.

On Tuesday, the Democratic New York City mayoral candidate admitted to engaging in lewd chats a year after the same dubious habits forced his resignation from Congress in 2011. In an extraordinary news conference, Weiner and his wife, Huma Abedin, pleaded for voters to forgive the embattled candidate.

Friend: Woman in sexting scandal loves politics, 'idealized' Weiner

Unlike his public resignation two years ago, Abedin spoke up for her husband Tuesday at the news conference, saying she's pushing beyond her husband's problem and urged others to do the same.

"What I want to say is, I love him, I have forgiven him, I believe in him, and as I have said from the beginning, we are moving forward," said Abedin, a longtime senior adviser to Hillary Clinton, adding that Weiner had made some "horrible mistakes, both before he resigned from Congress, and after."

"But I do very strongly believe that that is between us and our marriage," she continued. "It was not an easy choice in any way, but I made the decision that it was worth staying in this marriage. That was a decision I made for me, for our son and for our family."

Members of her inner circle said Abedin was out there Tuesday because she wanted to be. And when the scandal first broke in 2011, Abedin wanted Weiner to keep his congressional seat, not resign, according to a friend from Abedin's days in the Clinton White House.

Known as a deeply private person, Abedin's presence in the latest dustup-a noticeable difference from her decision to stay away from the media during Weiner's congressional resignation-has spurred questions of "why?"

Why help him out? Why stick with him? Why this time?

John Avlon, senior political columnist for The Daily Beast and CNN contributor, argued Abedin is simply following the model set by Hillary Clinton.

"Part of the Clinton playbook is success heals all wounds. Let's just win and all this tawdry mess will be in the rearview mirror," he said on CNN's "New Day."

Others believe it simply comes down to love. Noting that Abedin is someone with a highly successful career, friend and CNN contributorPaul Begala told CNN's Chris Cuomo that Abedin is clearly "not a woman trapped without options."

"I fall back to philosopher Blaise Pascal, who says, 'The heart has its reasons, of which reason knows nothing.' In other words, I don't think this is simply a strategic decision for her. I think Huma loves this guy. She's going to stick with him. She thinks he'd be a good mayor," Begala said.

Weiner's wife: Should Huma stand by her man?

A Democratic strategist who served as a senior adviser in Bill Clinton's administration, Begala said Abedin gave Weiner "the only chance he's got" to continue with his bid for mayor. She could have easily ended this, he argued, and "no one would have thought less of her for that."

"What you saw the other day at the press conference was the real Huma–very emotional but also very committed," Begala added. "That's why I don't think this is any kind of strategy. I think it's just her revealing her heart, which must be an incredible painful thing for an intensely private woman."

Calls from editorial boards and opponents for Anthony Weiner to withdraw from the New York City mayoral contest have been pouring in after his admission that he sent the lusty messages more than a year after resigning from Congress.

As Weiner resisted those calls to drop out, CNN was able to identify the 23-year-old recipient of those sexually charged messages.

Hillary Clinton adviser Huma Abedin, Anthony Weiner's wife, now in spotlight

The woman who participated in the lewd chats with Weiner was identified by an acquaintance as Sydney Elaine Leathers of Evansville, Indiana.

The acquaintance, Lou Colagiovanni, told CNN he met Leathers on a political Facebook page he moderated in 2010. After Leathers confided in Colagiovanni about the Weiner sexting messages, he says the two discussed making money off the revelation of Weiner's improprieties. When Leathers took the messages elsewhere, Colagiovanni said he decided to go public.

The messages were published on the Gossip website TheDirty.com almost a year after they were exchanged, just weeks before the Democratic mayoral primary in New York City.

Weiner resists calls to withdraw as woman who received messages is identified

In a lengthy e-mail to supporters earlier Wednesday, Weiner declared: "New Yorkers don't quit, and I'll never quit on you." He added that he "answered every question about these mistakes" before and after announcing his run for mayor but expressed regret that he did not specify "when these exchanges happened."

In his e-mail to supporters, Weiner said the exchange was "a terrible mistake that I unfortunately returned to during a rough time in our marriage."

– CNN's Jessica Yellin, Alina Cho, Ashley Killough, Kevin Liptak, and CNNMoney's Erica Fink, and Laurie Segall contributed to this report.


Filed under: Anthony Weiner • New York
soundoff (170 Responses)
  1. Fair is Fair

    Sorry, Huma. Staying there and "forgiving" his disgusting behavior only makes you and enabler. His subsequent "activity" only proves this point.

    July 25, 2013 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  2. Rudy NYC

    What a mess. Too bad Mr. Weiner cannot see past his optimistic bias, which most all of us have in excess. Optimistic bias is the tendency for people to think the best about themselves. Weiner doesn't see that he's putting himself ahead of NYC, and that's not good. Voters will remember that he put himself first for all eternity.

    July 25, 2013 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  3. Rick McDaniel

    I think she will.......if he loses the mayoral election.

    July 25, 2013 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  4. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Part of the Clinton playbook is success heals all wounds. Let's just win and all this tawdry mess will be in the rearview mirror,"
    -------------------------------------------------
    Okay let's see:
    You committed a sexual indiscretion, Clinton committed a sexual indiscretion.
    You lied about it. Clinton lied about it.
    You said you would stop doing it but didn't. Clinton stopped doing it (or at least getting caught again).
    You lied about not doing it anymore to your wife and New Yorkers whose vote you now seek in your run for mayor.
    Clinton was already President, and a damn good one.
    I don't know but I don't think that trying to draw parallels with a beloved President like Clinton and in the process drawing that type of negative attention to the Clinton name is going to endear you to the voters of a Blue state like New York.
    It certainly has done nothing but piss me off.
    You need to quit the race you perverted, lying, selfish twit so that you can indulge in your not-so-secret pleasure on your own time NOT the New York taxpayer's.
    Your wife has chosen to stick by you, not us.

    July 25, 2013 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  5. Rudy NYC

    If Huma Abedin has any desire to have a future in politics, then she needs to distance herself from this guy. I think the best thing that she can do in the here and now is tell her husband to choose. Either, drop out of the race, or the marriage is over. Mr. Weiner's problem is that he makes selfish decisions. His choices that I have seen him make always seem to take the path that offers Weiner the most benefit. Forcing him to choose between dropping out or divorce offer nothing that benefits him the most.

    July 25, 2013 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  6. Wasnt Mee

    So he "relapsed" eh? Mee believes that Weiner is obsessed with "weiner". Let it go man. I mean really.....let it go.

    July 25, 2013 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  7. cathyinca

    I think she needs as much psychiatric help as he does. Sticking with him after the first episode is understandable, if only somewhat. But after the second time?? And what will happen after the third time, because it will happen again.

    July 25, 2013 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  8. JQP1122

    If there is one thing that rings true in this entire story is the following, "Part of the Clinton playbook is success heals all wounds. Let's just win and all this tawdry mess will be in the rearview mirror," he said on CNN's "New Day."

    This playbook is NOT limited to the Clinton playbook however. We as a society are the ones who needs to look in the mirror. How many CEO's have had major transgressions but let them send the stock price up 50%+ and all is forgiven. How many star athletes have had run ins with the law or experienced other major moral issues but let them win a major golf tournament or score the winning touchdown and again all is forgiven, forgotten. Endorsement deals return and fans butts are back in the seats watching these seriously flawed individuals.

    Basically all this can be summed up like this, as long as you can make others lots and lots of money or entertain the masses then you can get away with almost anything, sad.

    July 25, 2013 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  9. ????

    She's been reading the Hillary Clinton playbook – Latch on to a potentially rising political star (no matter how sleazy)and ride it for as long as you can then branch off on to your own career. Problem is that all she is doing is enabling a miscreant's future political career at the cost of her own. She is probably betting that she can play the "sympathy card" in the future by saying she was just trying to hold her marriage together and the pervert she married would not stop being a pervert. Sorry, lady, we are not buying it.

    July 25, 2013 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  10. blf83

    It's time to go – far away from her fool of a "husband."

    July 25, 2013 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  11. Data Driven

    Here's an idea: why don't we leave her alone? Their marriage is none of our business.

    July 25, 2013 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  12. ro

    how can you stand by this sickness and perversion? I question Huma's judgment. At least Hillary forgave Bill for good old fashioned cheating – but Bill wasn't a weirdo; this guy certainly seems to be.

    July 25, 2013 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  13. Lynda/Minnesota

    "In his e-mail to supporters, Weiner said the exchange was "a terrible mistake that I unfortunately returned to during a rough time in our marriage."

    Sounds as if he is now trying to justify his behavior by indirectly blaming his wife for the rough time in their marriage. Fact of the matter is, this isn't any of my business, and as such I shouldn't be commenting, but he really ought to step back, call it a day, and try out the private sector where this lewd behavior of his isn't going to be played out publicly as political news fodder.

    July 25, 2013 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  14. bilek bilek

    "New Yorkers don't quit, and I'll never quit on you."

    Sounds like he has quit on his commitment to his family a couple of times.

    July 25, 2013 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  15. Michael

    Memo to New York City:
    If you are undecided about Weiner in light of his history of exposing himself to strangers, then you are probably just as screwed up as he is.

    July 25, 2013 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  16. Ed

    Er, here is an idea. She spoke publicly this time because he not doing so the first time was discussed in therapy.

    July 25, 2013 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  17. Jackie

    "After some reflection, the friend said, Abedin felt that taking their toddler son from his father was not what was best for him, and ultimately decided to continue with therapy in an effort to heal their relationship and help him with work through his issues."

    This story is awful, it makes my stomach turn, I don't know the real incentive for Huma to stay with Weiner, but it can't be in the best interest of their son. Huma, why would you want to raise your son with a man who thought it was ok to treat you this way? You're beautiful, successful, cultured, and Muslim. Why on earth would you set the example for women to think it's ok for men to treat them this way? I would have left him the instant it happened the first time, but the fact that he repeated the behavior for a lone period of time, after having lost his career, and the possibility of losing you? This man doesn't learn. Not only is it not fit for a man who has these types of sexual issues to serve in the Government, but for a woman to stand by his side? You don't need Weiner, Weiner needs you to succeed. Cut the cord and move on, your presence is more detrimental to your career and validity. Run. Far. Away. From. Weiner. and ditch that awful last name that has to be a constant reminder of what he's shown the world.

    July 25, 2013 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  18. Mel

    Can you imagine if Weiner were to be elected mayor of New York City? Just try to think of a press conference or some other public and he gets one of his "urges" to go on display....
    #THE HORROR

    July 25, 2013 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  19. Martha

    You get what you settle for ... she should have dumped him.

    July 25, 2013 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  20. Rudy NYC

    Lynda/Minnesota

    "In his e-mail to supporters, Weiner said the exchange was "a terrible mistake that I unfortunately returned to during a rough time in our marriage."

    Sounds as if he is now trying to justify his behavior by indirectly blaming his wife for the rough time in their marriage.
    -----------------
    I read that statement differently. I think that he's speaking about is his online sex addiction. He's blaming himself. I think he parapharasing. Here's a rewrite.

    ...Weiner said the exchange [of emails] was "a terrible mistake, [an addiciton] that I unfortunately returned to during a rough time in our marriage." The "rough time" that he's speaking about I take to be the initial earthquake caused by the original disclosures in 2011.

    July 25, 2013 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  21. Jeanette

    "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." Once a cheater, always a cheater.

    July 25, 2013 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  22. Sharon

    Weiner needs to stay home and be a house husband. Let Huma work and Weiner can stay home and take care of the baby, do the housework, etc.

    July 25, 2013 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  23. Lynda/Minnesota

    Rudy NYC" "...Weiner said the exchange [of emails] was "a terrible mistake, [an addiciton] that I unfortunately returned to during a rough time in our marriage." The "rough time" that he's speaking about I take to be the initial earthquake caused by the original disclosures in 2011."

    I absolutely understand this is an addiction. And as with all addictions, stress is a major indicator. As well as the fact that sexual addictions do cause marriages to stumble. As I said earlier, I should not be commenting on what is a private matter between he and his wife. I took umbrage at his comment. If he stumbled once again because his previous actions brought strife to his marriage, he is likely to stumble again for that same reason. His wife cannot stop this behavior. Although I do agree with you that he is also blaming himself, I am not so sure he has yet to overcome the justification of such behavior as being wrong.

    It is not his marriage (rough or otherwise) that I am concerned with ... it is his lewd behavior.

    July 25, 2013 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  24. CJPA

    Sounds like Mr. Weiner needs more than therapy. How about a long stint in a rehab for his obvious addiction. With no treatment, this behavior will continue, and I'm sure Huma is aware of that.

    July 25, 2013 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  25. Lynda/Minnesota

    @Rudy

    I did try to respond to your comment. I'll give a second go, but will most likely get the same results. It isn't Weiner's marriage that concerns me ... it is his behavior. I took exception to the mention of his "rough marriage" comment. I personally thought it was unnecessary and quite thoughtless. I attribute his rough marriage directly to his behavior. And as I said in my previous post, I really shouldn't have commented to begin with. This truly is none of my business.

    Mind you, this isn't coming across as I would like but I have to play the game as best as I'm allowed.

    July 25, 2013 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
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