Huma Abedin and the Tangled Clinton Web
BY ANDREW C. MCCARTHY FEBRUARY 12, 2016
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Almost a month ago, Fox News reported that the FBI’s investigation of possible national security violations stemming from Hillary Clinton’s private email system had expanded to include a corruption angle, centered on the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation and the possibility that Foundation donors received favorable government treatment during Mrs. Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state.
The Fox report prompted indignant denials from Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign that there had been any broadening of the probe. Yet, the government is not required to disclose the course of its investigation publicly, much less to its subjects. And now, there are additional indications that the government is indeed scrutinizing the cozy relations the State Department enjoyed during Secretary Hillary Clinton’s tenure with both the Clinton Foundation and a Clinton-connected consulting firm called Teneo.
Last autumn, according to the Washington Post, the State Department’s inspector general (IG) issued subpoenas to the Clinton Foundation. The IG’s office has authority to investigate wrongdoing at the Department, including criminal wrongdoing. Its conclusions may be referred to the Justice Department for possible prosecution, and may also result in other forms of disciplinary action against government officials found to have committed misconduct. The subpoenas served on the Clinton Foundation reportedly focused on two areas of inquiry: (a) Clinton Foundation projects that may have required federal government approval during Mrs. Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state; and (b) Clinton Foundation records pertaining to the employment of Huma Abedin.
Ms. Abedin, a longtime Clinton confidante, served as Secretary Clinton’s deputy chief-of-staff at the State Department and is now vice chairwoman of Mrs. Clinton’s 2016 campaign for the presidency.
For about a half-year toward the end of Abedin’s tenure at the State Department, which coincided with Secretary Clinton’s own departure from the State Department in February 2013, Abedin was given a highly unusual and ethically dubious arrangement. She was permitted to work simultaneously for the State Department, Teneo, the Clinton Foundation, and even in a personal capacity for Mrs. Clinton in order to manage the secretary’s transition back to the private sector (notwithstanding that Mrs. Clinton had a job waiting for her at the lavishly funded Clinton Foundation, from which she would oversee her 2016 campaign-in-waiting).
Ordered Liberty readers will recall that Ms. Abedin has been the subject of controversy. Several years ago, five House conservatives asked State’s IG to investigate how Abedin managed to receive a security clearance despite extensive family ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and to an al-Qaeda financier whose “charity” was designated a terrorist organization by the government.
At the time, senior Republicans attacked the House conservatives, despite the fact that the latter were not alleging any wrongdoing on Abedin’s part -- they were merely and sensibly questioning the propriety of the government’s granting a security clearance to someone of Abedin’s background.
In light of new revelations in the Clinton email scandal, which place Abedin in the center of the mishandling of classified information through Mrs. Clinton’s homebrew server system, the concerns of the House conservatives seem prescient.
Ms. Abedin, of course, is married to former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner. The wedding ceremony was performed by former President Clinton in July 2010. Less than a year later, Weiner was enmeshed in a “sexting” scandal involving the sending of sexually explicit photographs of himself to young women. He vehemently denied the allegations until undeniable proof mounted, at which point he apologized and resigned in disgrace. At the time, Ms. Abedin was pregnant -- the couple’s son was born in December 2011. Weiner attempted a political comeback in 2013, running for mayor of New York City with the strong support of his wife. His campaign went up in flames, however, when news emerged that he had continued sexting (under the pseudonym “Carlos Danger”) for more than a year after leaving Congress over it.
Abedin’s tenure at the State Department has already been the subject of an investigation for financial self-dealing. It is alleged that while she was pregnant in 2011, she went on an extended “Babymoon” vacation but failed to file paperwork that is required when government employees take paid leave – meaning: she was paid while on vacation as if she were working full-time. Because her leave time was not deducted while she was on vacation, and because government employees are paid for accumulated, unused leave time when they exit government service, Abedin was effectively paid twice for her vacation – cashing in the un-deducted leave in 2013, when she quit the State Department. The result, the IG found, wasan overpayment of over $10,000.
Abedin disputes the IG’s conclusion that the payment was improper, claiming that she did some work while on vacation. The IG referred his findings to the Obama Justice Department, then led by Attorney General Eric Holder. Justice declined to prosecute.
The vacation kerfuffle may be the least of Abedin’s problems.
As already noted, she is reportedly in the circle of Hillary Clinton’s State Department aides who transmitted classified information via Mrs. Clinton’s private, non-secure email system. It now appears that classified information may have been unlawfully transmitted via at least 12 -- and as many as 30 -- private email accounts. I outlined these new revelations on Thursday, relying on the indefatigable reporting of Catherine Herridge and Pamela K. Browne at Fox News. Recklessly causing classified information to be removed from its secure government repository, and causing classified information to be transmitted to persons not entitled to have it, are both felony violations of federal law.
And now we have the afore-described subpoena to the Clinton Foundation.
Insofar as Ms. Abedin is concerned, the IG’s inquiry appears to center on the end of her tenure at the State Department, from her return from maternity leave in June 2012 through her early 2013 exit from the Department. With the approval of then-Secretary Clinton, Abedin’s status was changed to “special government employee.” This enabled her, while continuing to work for State, to take a senior position at Teneo, a private strategic consulting firm co-founded by Doug Band, a confidant and former adviser of President Bill Clinton, and Declan Kelly, a Clinton confidant and fundraiser whom Secretary Clinton appointed to be the State Department’s economic envoy to Northern Ireland.
As a Judicial Watch report notes, while Teneo touts itself as having been founded in 2011, components of the firm appear to have been registered as early as 2009. Declan Kelly, Teneo’s CEO, served as State’s envoy to Northern Ireland from September 2009 through May 2011. There is thus some question whether he, too, was working at Teneo while employed by the government.
In any event, Abedin clearly worked for Teneo while working for the State Department. As the New York Times has reported, she failed to reveal her Teneo employment and compensation on government disclosure forms. She claims her “special government employee” status absolved her of fulfilling this transparency obligation (notwithstanding that disclosure would plainly have been required had she still formally been a top aide to the secretary of State -- the role she continued in de facto).
To tangle the web even further, Abedin was also working for the Clinton Foundation. At the time, former President Clinton was running the Clinton Foundation. He was simultaneously a paid adviser to and client of Teneo.
Also overlapping at Teneo and the Clinton Foundation was Justin Cooper. According to Judicial Watch, Cooper, another longtime Clinton flunky, is linked to the registration documents for the private server at the center of Mrs. Clinton’s email scandal. Citing his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination,Cooper reportedly refused to testify before the House Committee investigating the 2012 Benghazi massacre (the Committee was inquiring into, among other things, whether Clinton emails had been withheld from its investigation).
The IG investigation appears to involve conflicts of interest obviously created by these interwoven employment arrangements. There have already been reports, for example, that shortly before she joined Teneo in mid-2012, Abedin was pressed at the State Department by Teneo executives to help them secure a presidential appointment (on the President’s Global Development Council) for Judith Rodin.
Rodin is a major Clinton Foundation donor and president of the Rockefeller Foundation … which had retained Teneo, at a cost of $5.7 million, to do public relations work. As Politico reported, Teneo’s Doug Band wrote to Abedin that “Judy rodin” was a “Huge foundation/cgi [Clinton Global Initiative] supporter and close pal of wjc [William Jefferson Clinton]. Teneo reps her as well[.] Can you help?” The email chain further explained the presidential appointment at issue and that Rodin “is expecting us to help her get appointed to this.” Rodin did not get the appointment, and it is unclear whether Abedin took any steps to help Teneo. Abedin was hired by Teneo a few weeks later.
Judicial Watch adds that, in December 2012, then-Secretary Clinton flew to Ireland to be honored by Worldwide Ireland Funds. Like the Clinton Foundation, WIF is a self-styled philanthropic organization and claims to have raised $430 million for global good works. By then, Declan Kelly had left his State Department envoy post in Northern Ireland and was CEO of Teneo, which coordinated the WIF event.
Secretary Clinton was accompanied by Ms. Abedin, who was then working for and being paid by both Teneo and the State Department. And not only that. According to a mid-2013 letter Abedin wrote the State Department, she was also working for the Clinton Foundation to plan Mrs. Clinton’s “post-State philanthropic activities,” in addition to working for Mrs. Clinton “in her personal capacity … [to] prepare for transition from public service.”
Got all that?
Whether there is real fire under all this swirling smoke is a question investigators are undoubtedly trying to answer. It should be noted that the State Department IG’s subpoenas to the Clinton Foundation were reportedly served a few months ago. It has not been publicly disclosed what, if any, coordination there is between the IG’s inquiry and the FBI’s investigation.