Today's Beltway whodunit: Which Senator "sexually assaulted" Huma Abedin?

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon,File)

This is no Agatha Christie story, but it’s likely to be a best-seller in Washington DC, at least. Longtime Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin has a memoir coming out next week, but the publisher made sure to leak this bombshell allegation to prime the retail pump for Both/And: A Life in Many Words. In it, Abedin accuses an unnamed US senator of forcing his tongue into her mouth in an office meeting that turned, well … gross:

Then, after describing a Washington dinner attended by “a few senators and their aides” but not Clinton, Abedin writes: “I ended up walking out with one of the senators, and soon we stopped in front of his building and he invited me in for coffee. Once inside, he told me to make myself comfortable on the couch.”

She says the senator took off his blazer, rolled up his sleeves and made coffee while they continued to talk.

“Then, in an instant, it all changed. He plopped down to my right, put his left arm around my shoulder, and kissed me, pushing his tongue into my mouth, pressing me back on the sofa.

“I was so utterly shocked, I pushed him away. All I wanted was for the last 10 seconds to be erased.”

Abedin writes that the senator seemed surprised but apologized and said he had “misread” her “all this time”. As she considered how to leave “without this ending badly”, she writes, the senator asked if she wanted to stay.

“Then I said something only the twentysomething version of me would have come up with – ‘I am so sorry’ – and walked out, trying to appear as nonchalant as possible.”

Who was the alleged creep? Abedin declines to identify him, or the state he represented. She claims to have “buried” the incident until the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings, though:

Abedin withheld details of the senator’s identity, including his party affiliation, whether he is still in Congress, and which state he represented. …

Abedin said she “buried the incident” until sexual assault allegations against future Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh emerged in 2018.

Specifically, Abedin wrote, it was Professor Christine Blasey Ford “being accused of ‘conveniently’ remembering” the alleged attack against her that dredged up Abedin’s memory of her own alleged assault.

Perhaps that juxtaposition is just the honest truth, but it seems pretty politically convenient. As for the truth of the incident itself, it doesn’t sound terribly outlandish at all. It is unfortunately rather easy to believe that someone who worked his way up the political ladder to the pinnacle of Beltway power would just assume that any woman who visited him or worked for him would be sexually open to him as well. That dynamic has been well established in politics, the entertainment industry, and so on.

Just ask Tara Reade about Joe Biden, for instance. I wonder whether her claim that the current president penetrated her digitally without her consent also helped unbury this memory for Abedin. I’d guess that the number of mentions of Reade in Both/And are zero/never, but I’m willing to be pleasantly surprised.

One has to wonder whether the senator in question was Biden, but Abedin probably wouldn’t have included this anecdote in the memoir if that was the case. It’s too easy to draw the connection to Reade. However, her hesitancy in naming and shaming the senator certainly leaves the impression that it’s likely not a Republican, especially one who might have been around for the Kavanaugh hearings. It seems unlikely that Abedin would have been interested in chatting up someone from the Senate GOP caucus alone while working as Clinton’s aide, too.

We’ll probably never know, at least not until Abedin’s next memoir. But you can bet that we’ll be hearing roll calls and speculation for the next few weeks about it.