Conservative groups scour her emails, and Donald Trump says she aided the Clinton FoundationBy
Sept. 28, 2016 8:07 p.m. ET
Her emails have been sought by conservative interest groups, she has been accused by Donald Trump of doing State Department favors for the Clinton Foundation, and she has been embarrassed by her husband’s sexual activities.
Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton’s longest-serving aide, has received an unusual amount of public attention for a behind-the-scenes staffer. Over the years, she has graduated from intern to omnipresent personal assistant to vice chairwoman of Mrs. Clinton’s Democratic presidential campaign and one of her closest advisers.
Among Ms. Abedin’s most important roles is gatekeeper, a key figure in determining who gets to see Mrs. Clinton, and who doesn’t. She oversees planning for anything involving the candidate, manages her sprawling network of contacts and talks with Mrs. Clinton more than any other aide.
The 41-year-old Ms. Abedin is often on the road, and those who know her say her power derives from her proximity to Mrs. Clinton. She was part of her debate preparation team, and backstage in Hempstead, N.Y., just before Mrs. Clinton walked onto the debate stage on Monday.
Her emails with Mrs. Clinton show an intimacy few others can claim. A week after Mrs. Clinton was released from the hospital to treat a blood clot in a vein in her head, Ms. Abedin emailed a reminder to take a nap.
One night in November 2009, the then-secretary of state emailed Ms. Abedin to catch up on a pending matter from that day’s business. “If you want me to come give you download, I will be up for a while,” Ms. Abedin wrote. Mrs. Clinton replied in a note sent after midnight, “I’m up now so come when you are able. Just knock on the door to the bedroom if it’s closed.”
Ms. Abedin, who declined to comment for this article, is expected to take a senior White House position if Mrs. Clinton defeats Mr. Trump.
A practicing Muslim, Ms. Abedin was born in Kalamazoo, Mich., to Indian- and Pakistani-born parents. She was raised in Saudi Arabia, where her parents went to teach, before returning to the U.S. to attend George Washington University.
During college in 1996, Ms. Abedin went to work as an intern for the first lady, and she has been by Mrs. Clinton’s side ever since. Former President Bill Clinton officiated at her nuptials with former Rep. Anthony Weiner, and at another wedding celebration, Mrs. Clinton offered a toast saying that if she had a second daughter, it would be Huma.
Today, she vets material that will be released in Mrs. Clinton’s voice, helps decide who will introduce the candidate and occasionally meets with donors.
“She’s multifaceted, has a great strategic sense, and she’s a wonderful colleague,” Mrs. Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, said. “She’s an integral part of the team.”
The names of three top Clinton aides continue to surface in newly publicized emails, putting them at the center of the controversy surrounding Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation. WSJ's Shelby Holliday explains who they are and how they ended up in Clintons' inner circle. Photo: Getty Images
Thousands of emails exchanged when Mrs. Clinton was secretary of state show that she relied on Ms. Abedin to plan her schedule, untangle technology, recommend restaurants and print emails for later review.
Ms. Abedin had a personal email address on the Clinton family server, which has resulted in all of her correspondence being released to conservative groups Citizens United and Judicial Watch. They have also successfully sued to obtain some of her emails from her State Department account. More emails are expected to be released by both groups before Election Day.
Several of the messages released so far show Clinton Foundation officials asking her for favors. For example, in April 2009, Doug Band, then a top foundation official, emailed Ms. Abedin to ask for help for a top foundation donor, Lebanese-Nigerian businessman Gilbert Chagoury.
“We need Gilbert Chagoury to speak to the substance guy re Lebanon. As you know he’s key guy there and to us and is loved in Lebanon. Very imp,” Mr. Band wrote to Ms. Abedin and Cheryl Mills, Mrs. Clinton’s chief of staff at State.
Ms. Abedin responded with the name of the American ambassador to Lebanon and said she would talk with him. Mr. Band replied that it would be better if she called him immediately. “This is very important,” he emphasized. “He’s awake I’m sure.”
Mr. Trump said of such email releases in August: “It’s called pay for play.”
Mr. Clinton’s campaign has said that her decisions as secretary of state were unrelated to requests from the foundation and its supporters.
Since 2013, Ms. Abedin has been under investigation by Sen. Charles Grassley (R., Iowa) for an arrangement under the Special Government Employee program, which allowed her to simultaneously work for the State Department, Mrs. Clinton personally, the foundation and a private consulting firm called Teneo, founded in part by Mr. Band.
The program was created to allow agencies to give short-term jobs to people from the private sector with particular expertise, and Mr. Grassley charges that using it for Ms. Abedin was an abuse.
“All of this raises fundamental questions about not just Ms. Abedin’s employment arrangements but the intersection between the State Department, Clinton Foundation, and Teneo business interests,” he wrote last month to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, asking for an investigation into the foundation.
Part of Mr. Band’s rationale for bringing Ms. Abedin to Teneo was to offer her a pathway to life apart from the Clinton orbit, according to one person familiar with the situation. She didn’t take it, and has never held a job unrelated to the Clintons.
The State Department has said Ms. Abedin’s work for Teneo was unrelated to her work for the government. It also said her outside employment while at State was arranged so that the government wouldn’t be paying Ms. Abedin for work she did charting Mrs. Clinton’s post-State career.
Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill, decrying the Republican attacks on Ms. Abedin, said: “One of the more unfortunate lines that have been crossed this political season is that we have an opponent that has no bottom, and that extends to baseless attacks on staff. It’s not surprising, but it is disappointing.”
Meantime, Ms. Abedin’s personal life has been repeatedly thrust into public view thanks to Mr. Weiner, who resigned from Congress after admitting he had sent salacious photos and messages over the internet to other women.
She stuck by Mr. Weiner as he tried to mount a political comeback, and even after it was disclosed that he had continued sexting other women after he left Congress—a tale chronicled in a documentary that Ms. Abedin participated in, which was released this summer. The last straw came after the New York Post reported in August that he had done it yet again. She announced she was leaving him.