NewsIndiaTimes - page 7

By Ben Brody, Nick Wadhams
–NEWYORK
uma Abedin stepped
down from her post as
deputy chief of staff at
the State Department
and Hillary Clinton’s
ever-present personal assistant
on June 3, 2012. Only she didn’t
really leave.
Instead, in a reverse twist on a
program intended to bring tal-
ented outsiders into govern-
ment, Abedin was immediately
rehired as a “special government
employee.” She also took paying
jobs with the Clinton
Foundation and Teneo Holdings,
a consulting firm with interna-
tional clients that was co-found-
ed by a foundation official who
also was Bill Clinton’s long-time
personal aide.
Abedin’s multitasking in the
final eight months of Hillary
Clinton’s time as the top U.S.
diplomat -- and her role as inter-
mediary for some of the same
players before that -- are draw-
ing renewed scrutiny after a con-
servative watchdog group’s
release last week of a new batch
of e-mails to and from Clinton
aides. Abedin has become the
personification of an election-
year debate over whether the
nonprofit foundation will create
conflicts of interest if Clinton
wins theWhite House.
“The Clinton Foundation for
Hillary Clinton is kind of a walk-
ing conflict-of-interest problem,”
Meredith McGehee, policy direc-
tor for the nonpartisan
Campaign Legal Center, said in
an interview. “Clearly this notion
that it could continue to operate
while she was secretary of state -
- it was a built-in problem. If
you’re really looking at what
should happen if she’s elected,
neither her husband nor her
daughter, certainly no relative,
should have any connection
with the foundation.”
Clinton was rated trustworthy
by just 41 percent of likely voters
in a Bloomberg Politics national
poll conducted Aug. 5-8. More
than half said that the Clinton
Foundation’s acceptance of for-
eign contributions while she was
secretary of state bothers them
“a lot.”
The Clinton Foundation is a
nonprofit which says on its web-
site that it has focused “on tack-
ling a number of the world’s
greatest challenges: Global
health, climate change, econom-
ic development, health and well-
ness, and improving opportunity
for girls and women.” Its annual
financial statement for 2014 said
its grants and contributions for
the year totaled $331.7 million.
Bill and Hillary Clinton have
never been paid for their work
with the foundation, and Bill
Clinton told Bloomberg
Television in June that “I always
took all the money people gave
us and put it right into the
work.”
But Republican critics say
they have benefited from politi-
cal contributions and speech
fees provided by some of its
wealthy contributors.
Republicans have cited the ques-
tionable human-rights records of
some countries that contributed
to the foundation, and
Republican presidential nomi-
nee Donald Trump last week
called it a “pay-for-play” opera-
tion that rewarded its benefac-
tors with State Department
favors.
When Clinton was awaiting
confirmation as President
Barack Obama’s secretary of
state in 2009, she wrote a letter
to the State Department’s chief
ethics officer promising that she
wouldn’t “participate personally
and substantially in any particu-
lar matter that has a direct and
predictable effect upon this
foundation, unless I first obtain a
written waiver or qualify for a
regulatory exemption.”
But that “did not preclude
other State Department officials
from having contact with the
Clinton Foundation staff,” just as
they “are regularly in touch with
a wide variety of outside individ-
uals and organizations,” depart-
ment spokeswoman Elizabeth
Trudeau told reporters last week.
That’s where Abedin came in.
Best known for her “Good
Wife” ordeal standing by her
husband, former Rep. Anthony
Weiner, throughout the sexting
scandal that brought down his
career in politics, Abedin’s pro-
fessional accomplishments have
been mostly behind the scenes
as the ever-present assistant to
Hillary Clinton.
The Michigan-born daughter
of an Indian father and a
Pakistani mother, Abedin gradu-
ated from GeorgeWashington
University and worked as a
White House intern for Hillary
Clinton as first lady. She followed
her boss to the Senate, on her
2008 presidential campaign and
to the State Department. Abedin
is still at Clinton’s side as vice
chair of this year’s presidential
campaign.
Abedin’s arrangement as a
“special government employee”
has been challenged since 2013
by Republican Sen. Chuck
Grassley of Iowa, who has ques-
tioned whether she was overpaid
and wrote her that “you allegedly
sent or received approximately
7,300 emails on your official
Department of State address that
involved Mr. Douglas Band,” the
Bill Clinton aide and Clinton
Foundation official who co-
founded Teneo.
In a 2013 letter to State
Department officials, Abedin
said she left her full-time post
because “the birth of my son in
December 2011 led me to decide
to spend the bulk of my time in
NewYork City where my family
lived.” She said she stayed on as
an hourly employee working for
“the Secretary of State in her per-
sonal capacity to help prepare
for her transition from public
service.”
Abedin wrote that she provid-
ed “strategic advice” to Teneo’s
management team but never did
“any work on Teneo’s behalf
before the department” nor pro-
vided information from govern-
ment sources to help its clients
make investment decisions, as
Republicans had suggested.
Abedin’s arrangement was
questioned in a 2013 civil lawsuit
by Judicial Watch, the conserva-
tive watchdog group, which
pressed for documents under
the Freedom of Information Act.
After Clinton’s use of a private e-
mail server when she was secre-
tary of state became public, the
group got the the case reopened
and has been obtaining -- and
publicizing -- a steady barrage of
e-mails and deposition tran-
scripts on the e-mail system and
other topics.
Last week, Judicial Watch pro-
duced e-mails including a 2009
exchange in which Band wrote
Abedin that it was “important to
take care of” an individual,
whose name was redacted.
Abedin replied that “personnel
has been sending him options.”
In another 2009 exchange,
Band asked Abedin and Cheryl
Mills, Clinton’s chief of staff, to
put Lebanese-Nigerian billion-
aire Gilbert Chagoury in touch
with a State Department “sub-
stance person” on Lebanon. The
Chagoury Group co-founder has
given between $1 million and $5
million to the Clinton
Foundation, according to a list of
donors posted online.
“Neither of these emails
involve the Secretary or relate to
the Foundation’s work,” Josh
Schwerin, a spokesman for
Clinton’s campaign, said in a
statement. Referring to Band’s
work for Bill Clinton, he said,
“They are communications
between her aides and the
President’s personal aide, and
indeed the recommendation was
for one of the Secretary’s former
staffers who was not employed
by the Foundation.”
Trudeau, the State
Department spokeswoman, said
the department was “not aware
of any actions that were influ-
enced by the Clinton
Foundation.” A lawyer for
Abedin declined to comment.
The thousands of work-relat-
ed e-mails from Clinton’s private
server that have been released by
the State Department also
underscore that some of the
almost-constant contacts
between Abedin and Douglas
Band during her years at the
State Department simply reflect-
ed their roles as the all-purpose
helpers alongside Hillary and Bill
Clinton in their separate global
travels.
“If u r still up, wjc landed in
brazil for refuel,” Abedin wrote
the secretary of state in June
2009, using Bill Clinton’s initials.
“He should be on the ground for
an hour or so. Call dougs cell.”
Continued on page 8
Abedin’s Overlapping Jobs Renew Focus On Clinton Conflicts
U.S. Affairs
H
– that’s all you need to know
Senior advisor Huma Abedin
looks on as Democratic
presidential candidate Hillary
Clinton campaigns with vice
presidential
candidate Senator Tim Kaine
(D-VA) at the Broad Street
Market in Harrisburg,
Pennsylvania, July 29.
News India Times August 26, 2016
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