Hillary Clinton has come out firing at FBI director James Comey for reawakening an email scandal, but is sticking by the “very close” aide who has yet again exposed her to a media storm.
Over the weekend, the FBI announced it would look into emails potentially pertinent to Mrs Clinton’s private email server, which were discovered on a computer jointly owned by Huma Abedin and her former husband Anthony Weiner.
Mr Comey said he felt an “obligation” to send a letter to the United States congress advising politicians the bureau is looking into the emails, after closing the investigation in April. The FBI later clarified it had not yet read the emails.
The messages surfaced while FBI agents were investigating unrelated allegations that Mr Weiner sent sexual text messages to a 15-year-old girl.
The potential problem for Ms Abedin is that she testified under oath in June this year that she had handed over all devices relevant to the original email investigation.
It is the third time Ms Abedin’s relationship has pulled Mrs Clinton into negative media coverage. The first was in 2013, when Mrs Clinton was dragged into the storm surrounding her then-husband’s infidelity.
Neither Hillary nor Bill Clinton have denounced Mr Weiner, even after he admitted yet more unfaithfulness in 2016. Ms Abedin was seen by Mrs Clinton’s side throughout.
Chas Licciardello, co-host of the ABC’s Planet America, said Ms Abedin’s connection to the latest scandal was no surprise, given her “very, very close” relationship with the presidential nominee.
“She has been involved in a number of Clinton controversies in the past, but I’m not sure she’s necessarily at fault. It’s just that she is a close confidante of Hillary Clinton, and when Hillary Clinton does something that creates smoke, Huma Abedin gets a cop,” Mr Licciardello told The New Daily.
“If Huma Abedin is just doing what Hillary wanted her to do, as I suspect, then I don’t think we can blame her.”
Ms Abedin has worked for Mrs Clinton for almost her entire career.
She was a 19-year-old intern to the First Lady in the 1990s. She was deputy chief of staff to the Secretary of State during the Obama years. She has worked for the Clinton Foundation. And she is serving as a close aide during the current campaign.
There appears to be a close friendship as well. Bill Clinton officiated her marriage ceremony to Mr Weiner in 2010.
US media is reporting that John Podesta, Mrs Clinton’s campaign chairman, has confirmed the Democratic nominee will “stand by” Ms Abedin.
James Cahill, editor of the University of Melbourne’s US Election Watch, said many analysts have observed that Hillary Clinton is often too loyal.
“It’s a common judgment that has been made about her that her loyalty to people close to her exceeds prudence or the caution a politician should show,” Mr Cahill told The New Daily.
‘No-win situation’ for FBI
Meanwhile, FBI director Comey has drawn criticism from both Democrats and Republicans after the leak of an internal email, in which he conceded that publicising the new investigation ran the risk of being “significantly misunderstood”.
According to some experts, Mr Comey was in a “no-win situation” because Republicans would have “torn him apart” if the follow-up investigation had leaked.
“Either he sided on excessive transparency which would lead to excessive speculation about the investigation being open or how sat on this for 12 days before the election when this could have turned things,” The University of Melbourne’s Mr Cahill said.
“Either way he was going to get hammered by one side or the other.”
But Mr Cahill noted that the United States Department of Justice policy is to delay an investigation or prosecution if it cannot be completed before an election.
With just 10 days to go, Republicans are pulling out all the stops to try to bring Hillary down. RT this to help get out the facts: pic.twitter.com/xiY0nSy7C6
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) October 30, 2016
How little the FBI director knew of the emails has also been brought into question.
“It’s odd, the information he revealed on Friday was so vague and inconclusive that it was problematic,” Mr Cahill said.
“Even the idea that they haven’t even seen the emails, this truly, truly could be nothing.”
Mrs Clinton herself criticised the director’s eleventh-hour announcement as “unprecedented and deeply troubling”.
“We are calling on the FBI to release all the information that it has.”
Republican nominee Donald Trump, sensing weakness, has mounted a furious effort to portray Mrs Clinton as unfit to lead the country.
“Perhaps, finally, justice will be done,” he said at a rally in New Hampshire.
– with Jackson Stiles