NEW YORK – Saddened by the disclosure of her husband's online sexual antics, Rep. Anthony Weiner's wife, Huma Abedin, is on a weeklong overseas trip with her boss, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, as another disclosure puts her even more in the unwelcome public eye: She is pregnant.
It was the latest twist in a series of eye-popping revelations surrounding Weiner, D-N.Y., and the sex scandal that could force the onetime rising political star to resign from Congress. A spokeswoman confirmed Wednesday that he had sent explicit photographs to women, as an X-rated photo Weiner purportedly took of himself made its way around several online gossip sites.
Sources close to Weiner and Abedin disclosed Wednesday that the couple is expecting a child, their first. Philippe Reines, a State Department spokesman and Abedin friend, had no comment.
The unfolding saga has cast an unwanted glare on the glamorous Abedin, one of the most private members of Clinton's intensely loyal team of advisers.
Starting work as an intern for Clinton in 1996, Abedin helped the former first lady weather the storm surrounding President Bill Clinton's affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky and his impeachment in 1998 by Congress. But the roles have shifted, and it's now Clinton's turn to offer solace to Abedin.
Abedin was with Weiner in New York following his news conference Monday in which he acknowledged sending inappropriate texts and photos to several women over about three years and publicly apologized to her for the pain he had caused.
"I love my wife very much, and we have no intention of splitting up over this," Weiner said through tears.
Abedin did not appear at Weiner's side as he faced the media, but friends said her absence did not mean she wasn't supporting him during the crisis. They said she went ahead Wednesday and accompanied Clinton to the Persian Gulf and Africa because she has not let the controversy get in the way of her professional duties.
"She is on the trip because it's her job, and she hasn't missed a beat throughout," Reines said.
Abedin was present Thursday at Clinton's meeting with the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed. Abedin was smiling and shook hands with the crown prince and his entourage; she did not appear distressed.
Abedin has no plans to speak publicly about her husband's troubles. Friends describe Abedin as more saddened than angry over her husband's behavior, and she plans to try to help him, even though she believes he has a lot of work to do to redeem himself.
"She is a very strong woman," Reines said.
Abedin's State Department title, deputy chief of staff for operations, only hints at her pivotal role in Clinton's professional life: She is part policy adviser, part strategist and a full-time multitasker who fields Clinton's phone calls, organizes her briefing books, snaps photos of Clinton posing with admirers and runs interference with those who try to curry favor or monopolize Clinton's time.
Abedin has played much the same role throughout Clinton's many career iterations, following the former first lady from the White House to Capitol Hill when Clinton served as a senator from New York, then joining Clinton on the presidential campaign trail in 2008 and later at the State Department after President Barack Obama chose Clinton to be secretary of state.
Clinton has returned the loyalty, telling friends she considers Abedin almost a second daughter. Those who know the Clintons say that other than their daughter, Chelsea, and Hillary Clinton's mother, Dorothy Rodham, there is no one closer to the couple than Abedin.
When Vogue Magazine featured Abedin in a photo spread in 2007, Clinton offered effusive praise.
"Huma Abedin has the energy of a woman in her 20s, the confidence of a woman in her 30s, the experience of a woman in her 40s and the grace of a woman in her 50s," Clinton told Vogue. "She is timeless. Her combination of poise, kindness and intelligence are matchless."
Abedin and Weiner got to know one another during Clinton's presidential campaign, clocking long hours traveling together across Iowa and other voting states. In an interview with The Associated Press in May 2008, as the primary season wound down and Obama was on track to win the nomination, Weiner said he would continue to be a Clinton campaign surrogate "largely because I'm dating Huma."
The brash, media-hungry Weiner and the refined, discreet Abedin seemed an unlikely match at first. They are also an interfaith couple: Weiner is Jewish and a strong supporter of Israel in Congress, while Abedin, who was born in Michigan but grew up in Saudi Arabia and speaks fluent Arabic, is a practicing Muslim. But friends say they are intensely affectionate with one another and relish each other's company.
The couple became engaged in 2009, shortly after he announced he would not run for New York City mayor that year in part because he wanted to "build a family." They were married by Bill Clinton in a lavish garden wedding at the Oheka Castle on Long Island last July, Abedin wearing an elaborate gown designed by Oscar de la Renta, a personal friend.
Weiner called the former president yesterday to apologize for his online indiscretions, a person with knowledge of the call said.