On Monday, top Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin announced that she and her husband, former Rep. Anthony Weiner, would be separating amid another of his alleged sexting incidents. The first such scandal ended Weiner's career as a U.S. representative in 2011. Their separation is beyond the limits of decent political punditry, but Donald Trump has attempted to make use of it as a weapon against Clinton's campaign. The Republican presidential nominee and any other critics should realize that Weiner and Abedin's split is not Clinton campaign fodder. Now the two, along with their four-year-old son, Jordan, must face the heartache and challenges that come with the potential end of a marriage. Their personal lives have nothing to do with Clinton's campaign, and trying to forge such a connection is both a desperate and deeply disrespectful move.
Of course, Trump weighed in with his own thoughts on the Abedin-Weiner separation shortly after news of it broke. In a statement Monday, Trump made what I believe are problematic assumptions about Weiner's proximity to Clinton's campaign through Abedin, along with portraying the former representative's sexual behavior as something that automatically makes him a national security risk. "I only worry for the country in that Hillary Clinton was careless and negligent in allowing Weiner to have such close proximity to highly classified information,” Trump said. “Who knows what he learned and who he told? It’s just another example of Hillary Clinton’s bad judgment. It is possible that our country and its security have been greatly compromised by this."
Abedin began her political career at the age of 19, and has been at Clinton's side for decades. She was an aide to Clinton's chief of staff, Melanne Verveer, when Clinton was first lady. Abedin went on to work on Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign, and became Secretary of State Clinton's deputy chief of staff. She is currently Clinton's campaign vice-chair.
Trump's reaction is typical: drumming up fear and blaming Clinton for whatever he claims is scary. He is using Abedin's personal situation as yet another opportunity to question Clinton's judgement, perhaps in an effort to capitalize on the fact that Clinton's trustworthy ratings are generally low. A CNN/ORC polling found Clinton's untrustworthiness rating at 68 percent in late July (to put it in context, though, a significant 55 percent also found Trump to not be trustworthy).
But framing Weiner's sexual behavior as something that implicates him — and, by proxy, Clinton — as a threat to national security is quite a stretch. The sexting scandal has nothing to do with Clinton's campaign. Abedin has a longstanding political career, and she deserves to be respected both professionally and personally.