Some have described her as Hillary Clinton’s “shadow.” Others have called her Clinton’s “surrogate daughter.”
Her name is Huma Abedin, and she serves as Vice Chair of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Abedin has spent decades beside presumptive Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton. Working her way up from a White House intern to Clinton’s right-hand woman.
Abedin handles the majority of day-to-day operations for her boss, from faxes and emails to booking hair appointments and answering her cellphone.
Here are five fast facts to know about Abedin, Clinton’s longest-serving aide:
1. Abedin Lived in Saudi Arabia for 16 Years
Abedin was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, in 1976. When Abedin was two, she relocated from Michigan to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia with her parents, who were Indian Muslim and Pakistani academics.
Her late father, Syed Zainul Abedin, was Indian. In the early 1970s, he was affiliated with the Muslim Students Association at Western Michigan University. Her mother, Saleha Mahmood Abedin, was born in Pakistan. Saleha received her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1977.
Abedin attended a British girls’ school before returning to the United States for college.
Abedin’s father helped start an international journal called the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs. Abedin worked part time at the Journal between 1998 and 2009, according to Newsweek.
2. She Began Her Political Career as a White House Intern
Abedin returned to the U.S. at 18 years old to study at George Washington University. She began working in the East Wing of the White House as an intern to the First Lady in 1996. Coincidentally, this was the same year that Monica Lewinsky began her duties as an intern in the West Wing.
When Clinton ran for the Senate in 2000, older White House aides moved on, and Abedin moved up.
Abedin has spent the majority of the past two decades alongside Clinton, the two have likely spent more time with each other than with their families.
Michael Feldman, a former adviser to Al Gore who has known Abedin for years told Politico:
At this point, Huma’s role is so important that they are now baking that into the process of the campaign. She provides the judgment, perspective and institutional memory that literally can’t be replicated. When you have someone who can be a surrogate not just externally, but internally, that saves a lot of time. It becomes a glue that holds things together.
3. She Is Vice Chair of Clinton’s Campaign
For most of the past 20 years, Abedin, who is now vice chair of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, has served as Clinton’s “body-woman.”
She served as her personal assistant during Clinton’s first presidential run in 2008. When Clinton was appointed as President Barack Obama’s Secretary of State in 2009, Abedin became her deputy chief of staff.
Although her titles may have differed in each of these roles, one thing has remained constant: Abedin has been Clinton’s confidante. For this reason, Abedin is considered by many as the most powerful person in the campaign organization.
Reporter Annie Karni writes on Politico.com that Abedin was “the only official channel to Clinton over the past year” and has been “elevated to the most senior member of Clinton’s old guard.” In that capacity, “Huma is occupying a perch overseeing the campaign operation.”
She even pre-interviewed and helped select the campaign manager, Robby Mook.
The State Department publicly released thousands of emails from Clinton and her aides, after it was discovered that she used a private email server during her four-year tenure as secretary of state.
Following the email release, Abedin’s role in coordinating Clinton’s life became public knowledge. The exchanges between Clinton and Abedin reveal she scheduled Clinton’s medical and beauty appointments, and seemed to have full access to the former secretary of state.
“Just knock on the door to the bedroom if it’s closed,” Clinton wrote to Abedin in one email, when she had been working at home.
Another email, to coworker Monica Hanley, showed messages regarding Clinton’s schedule of calls, including an 8:00 a.m. appointment to speak with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Abedin: Have you been going over calls with her for tomorrow? So she knows singh [sic] ls at 8?
Hanley: She was in bed for a nap by the time I heard that she had an 8 a.m. call. Will go over with her.
Abedin: Very imp[ortant] to do that. She’s often confused.
4. She Is Married to Ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner
Huma Abedin and Anthony Weiner were married on July 10, 2010, with former president Bill Clinton officiating.
A recent documentary shows an inside glimpse of their marriage, which became marred by Weiner’s sexting scandals.
The “Weiner” documentary premiered in January at the Sundance Film Festival, and has been released to screens across the country. It is expected to make its television debut on Showtime in October, just weeks before the presidential election.
The film follows Anthony Weiner’s 2013 mayoral campaign, which took place less than two years after an explicit texting scandal that forced his resignation from Congress. Five months into his mayoral campaign he was caught in another sexting scandal. Throughout it all, Abedin stayed by his side. The documentary offers a rare look at Weiner and Abedin’s relationship, as well as Abedin’s struggle throughout the scandal.
The film’s co-director Elyse Steinberg told The Daily Beast:
Just as Anthony was reduced to a caricature and a punchline, so was [Huma]. Our hope is that you get to see a different side of her: as a wife, as a mother, as a person with a very important job, and you also get to see the judgment that was placed against her. Huma is one of many women whose husbands did something wrong or embarrassing, and they were criticized for staying in the marriage. Our job was to question those judgments.
At one point in the film, the filmmaker asks Weiner, “Did Huma want you to go back into politics?” Without hesitation he responded. “She did. She was very eager to get her life back that I had taken from her.”
5. The FBI Interviewed Abedin as Part of Its Probe of Clinton’s Email Server
The FBI interviewed Hillary Clinton’s closest aides in May, including Abedin, over Clinton’s use of a private email server to store sensitive government information, according to CNN.
Questions have also been raised about Abedin’s arrangement to accept outside income as a consultant while working for Clinton at the State Department.
Clinton signed off on the controversial deal in 2012 that let Abedin simultaneously work for the State Department and Teneo Holdings, a private consulting firm with close ties to the Clinton family, according to records made public.
The Washington Post reported that during the last six months of Clinton’s tenure at the State Department, Abedin was drawing paychecks simultaneously from the government, Teneo Holdings, the Clinton Foundation and the secretary’s personal office.