The Los Angeles Times
Before any of former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner’s creepy sexting even came to light, his wife had attracted unwanted attention for her boss, Hillary Clinton.
Huma Abedin is a favorite target of Republicans. They accuse her of being a Saudi spy, a self-dealing insider, the mastermind behind a plot to hide Clinton’s email.
But the noise around Abedin was so often distorted by conspiracy theories that the public seemed to tune it out — until Weiner suddenly appeared back in the spotlight with the revelation of his most disturbing Twitter message yet: an illicit photo in which his son was a prop, sent privately to another woman. Abedin announced Monday that she and Weiner would separate.
Now, Clinton’s campaign finds itself unable to duck unwanted attention drawn to Abedin, a 40-year-old aide closer to Clinton than anyone else on her payroll.
Abedin, who has been referred to as Clinton’s “second daughter,” is the gatekeeper to the nominee. Even Bill Clinton sometimes can’t get to his wife without working through Abedin, who carries Hillary Clinton’s cellphone in her purse. Abedin’s imprimatur can be found all over Clinton’s world: on emails she sent to Clinton trying to explain how to use a fax machine, high-stakes diplomatic efforts in Libya (Abedin got hauled before the House committee on the Benghazi attacks for questioning) and the care and feeding of billionaire donors.
Yet Abedin almost never speaks publicly, meaning her work for Clinton is opaque to voters.
Operatives and pundits ascribe to her the motives that suit their own agendas. The media outlet that has most aggressively targeted her is the right-wing website Breitbart News, which first uncovered Weiner’s sexting. More recently, it has taken to suggesting Abedin is spying for Saudi Arabia and working to spread sharia law. Breitbart’s leader recently decamped from the outlet so he could run GOP nominee Donald Trump’s campaign.
The media attention erupting around Abedin right now, though, is not Breitbart’s making. It is the kind of spectacular staff drama the Clinton operation had been so good at avoiding during her presidential run over the last year and a half, the kind associated with previous campaigns of both Bill and Hillary Clinton.
By contrast, Clinton’s current team is disciplined, tight-lipped and uncharacteristically dull.
Trump wasted no time pouncing after Abedin said she was separating from Weiner. Her announcement followed a New York Post story detailing an unsettling private message Weiner sent on Twitter last year, in which he tried to impress a woman with an image of his and Abedin’s toddler son sleeping alongside him — and with the outlines of Weiner’s genitals clearly visible through his underwear in the photo.
“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 in a statement Monday. “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’s and Weiner’s relationship has been strained since his second round of publicly revealed sexting sunk his mayoral bid in 2013. They scarcely saw each other amid the rigors of the presidential campaign, during which Politico noted Abedin was frequently seen without her wedding ring. Abedin is almost always within steps of Clinton, and Clinton is almost always on the road.
But that close proximity to Clinton — paired with Abedin’s upbringing in Saudi Arabia — has fueled the many conspiracy theories.
“Why aren’t we talking about Huma and her ties to the Muslim Brotherhood?” said Rep. Sean Duffy, a Wisconsin Republican, during a CNN appearance last week. “Why aren’t we talking about the fact that she was an editor for a Sharia newspaper?” That same day, Roger Stone, a longtime Trump insider, accused Abedin of being a “Saudi asset.”
Fact checkers at the Washington Post looked into the charges and found them to be “bogus.” The allegations stem from Abedin’s upbringing in Saudi Arabia and a staid academic journal her mother publishes that Islamic scholars say is decidedly not radical.
The accusations that Abedin is affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, the political organization that briefly gained power in Egypt after the Arab Spring but is also classified as a terrorist group by some countries, has been uniformly panned as absurd by experts who track and study such groups.
But the Clinton campaign has been unable to easily swat away some of the other charges that swirl around Abedin. She operates in that controversial nexus of Clinton’s government work and the Clinton family foundation. At one point while Clinton was secretary of State, Abedin was being paid both by the government and a consulting firm founded by one of the top executives at the foundation. During that time, it was not always clear whose interests she was representing — the public’s, the foundation’s, or her own.
Congressional Republicans have been investigating the arrangement for years. More recently, Abedin’s name has surfaced in emails disclosed as part of Clinton’s private email server controversy. They show her working to help donors and other foundation friends get access to Clinton while she was secretary of State.
Some inside the Clinton orbit acknowledge that has created some anxiety, particularly for the high-level operatives who joined it only as this election cycle got underway. They have worked determinedly to keep the staff’s profile low. The flamboyant advisors who in the past had been known to possess the power to rattle the entire operation with a few whispers in the candidate’s ear are gone. Though that’s not Abedin’s style, she also doesn’t need to play by the same rules that everyone else on the team does.
That much was clear when Abedin, a fashion aficionado and a style icon in her own right, was profiled in Vogue — for the second time. The story for the magazine’s high-profile September issue, which Abedin agreed to be interviewed for, came at a time when others in the campaign already wanted less attention on her, not more.
Now Abedin herself is asking the media to back off.
“During this difficult time, I ask for respect for our privacy,” she said in a statement Monday.
But as long as Abedin remains a vital part of the Clinton operation, her life is almost certain to remain very public.
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Longtime Aide Huma Abedin Like ‘Second Daughter’ to Clinton
By KEN THOMAS AND CATHERINE LUCEY
Longtime Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin has won plaudits for her campaign instincts, her deep-rooted loyalty and her glamorous personal style. But she has been thrust into the spotlight for another attribute — as a wronged political wife.
Abedin, who is expected to play a major behind-the scenes role if her boss is elected president, announced Monday she was separating from her husband, Anthony Weiner, after the former New York congressman was accused of sending lewd photographs and messages to yet another woman.
It wasn’t the first time Abedin was confronted with her husband’s raunchy recklessness.
Weiner, a Democrat, resigned his seat amid a 2011 media firestorm that erupted after he texted suggestive photos of himself to several women. When he ran for mayor of New York City two years later, his campaign stumbled when it was revealed he was still sexting women who were not his wife.
Declaring the marriage over, Abedin said in a statement that she had decided to separate from Weiner “after long and painful consideration and work on my marriage.” The couple has a young son, Jordan.
Weiner didn’t return a call, text or email from The Associated Press. He deleted his Twitter account Monday.
The 41-year-old Abedin, now vice chairwoman of Clinton’s campaign, began working for the former first lady while a student at George Washington University in 1996. Her role deepened as Clinton won a New York Senate seat in 2000, ran for president in 2008 and later served as President Barack Obama’s secretary of state.
“With Huma, her grace, her intellect and her humility have been unmatched as I’ve watched her go from an aide to an adviser to one of the people at the top of my campaign,” Clinton said in a recent profile of Abedin in Vogue.
With roughly two months to Election Day, Abedin is Clinton’s near-constant travel companion and has long exerted great influence within Clinton’s inner circle — a role in which she is expected to continue should Clinton win the White House. Few major decisions in the campaign are made without Abedin’s input, and she remains an important back-channel in the Clinton orbit of friends, political allies and donors.
Stylish and poised, Abedin carries enough clout within Clinton circles to headline high-profile fundraisers, as she did in 2015 alongside Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour in Paris, raising money from Americans living abroad. She’s close enough to the Clintons that former President Bill Clinton officiated when Abedin and Weiner married in 2010.
Before The New York Post published photos late Sunday that it said Weiner sent last year to a woman identified as a “40-something divorcee,” Abedin was spotted outside a Clinton fundraiser at the Southampton home of philanthropist Marcia Riklis.
A friend of Abedin, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the breakup, said she was with her young son, Jordan, and her family members in the Hamptons during the weekend. Abedin’s friend said the separation from Weiner had been brewing for some time.
At the State Department, Abedin served as a jack-of-all-trades to Clinton, helping her with everything from scheduling meetings and arranging phone calls around the globe to offering fashion advice. In an early morning email to Clinton in August 2009, Abedin advised her to “wear a dark color today. Maybe the new dark green suit. Or blue.”
Abedin’s behind-the-scenes role has often drawn unwanted attention. Her email exchanges with Clinton were closely scrutinized during the Justice Department’s investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server. Federal prosecutors ultimately declined to issue charges in the cases.
Congressional Republicans have raised questions about whether Abedin skirted ethics guidelines during her 2012 work as an adviser to Clinton while she also worked for Teneo Holdings, a consulting firm co-founded by Doug Band, a former aide to former President Bill Clinton.
Republicans have also alleged that donors to the Clinton Foundation got preferential treatment while Clinton was secretary of state. Last week, the group Judicial Watch released several previously undisclosed exchanges turned over by Abedin that included a 2009 message she received from Band — a foundation official at the time — seeking a meeting with Hillary Clinton for the crown prince of Bahrain.
Crown Prince Salman had made a $32 million commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative, a program run by the foundation. Copies of Clinton’s calendar obtained by AP confirm the meeting occurred in her State Department office on June 26, 2009. The State Department has said there was nothing improper or unusual about the messages with Clinton Foundation staff.
Abedin’s marriage has also come under fire from Clinton’s Republican opponent Donald Trump, who immediately seized on the aide’s marital split to accuse Clinton of “bad judgment.” He suggested that Weiner might have compromised national security, but offered no evidence to support the allegation.
“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 in a statement. “Who knows what he learned and who he told?”
Associated Press writer Jennifer Peltz contributed from New York.
CNN Corrects Clinton Surrogate’s Spin of Hillary Email Scandal
August 29, 2016 8:35 pm
CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer corrected Hillary Clinton’s surrogate Lanny Davis on Monday when he tried to spin FBI Director James Comey’s words regarding Clinton and how she mishandled classified emails as secretary of state.
Blitzer showed a clip of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s new ad accusing Clinton of “lying” about her private emails server. After showing the clip, Blitzer cites that Clinton has a 51 percent unfavorable rating according to a new Monmouth University Poll.
“Her lead narrowing a bit over Donald Trump. Hasn’t she done a disservice to herself by not giving more information on this whole private server on these email issues. If you were advising her now, and you have been engaged in damage control for a long time, what would you tell her to do?” Blitzer asked.
Davis fired back at Blitzer that he needed to get his facts straight, saying Comey said Clinton never saw any markings on emails signifying that they were classified.
“James Comey said and confirmed that no email marked classified occurred and that Hillary Clinton did not see at the time any markings,” he said. “At one point CNN reported that that wasn’t true, that Mr. Comey had found markings. Then at the Congressional hearing CNN was contradicted and I was there the day that this report went out that Mr. Comey himself said, ‘No they were badly marked with a little c,’ and no expert would have recognized.”
Blitzer interjected and corrected Davis on Comey’s statements regarding the classification of the emails.
Lanny Davis with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday. File photo
“Let me interrupt you. Lanny, he did say three emails did have the letter c for classification as you know. He also said a lot of the other emails, Lanny, that weren’t marked classified were in fact classified including some at the highest levels of classification. He also said that,” Blitzer said.
Davis said that he respected Blitzer, but he accused him of leaving out second part of Comey’s quote where Comey said that experts would not have recognized that little ‘ c’ marking the emails as “classified”
“Lanny, why did he say she was negligent and extremely careless?” Blitzer asked.
Davis responded by calling Comey’s assessment an “opinion” and that he did not agree with Comey’s comments regarding her carelessness.
Davis has been a loyal Clinton supporter since his tenure as “special counsel” to former president Bill Clinton. Over a year prior to Comey calling Clinton “extremely careless” with her handling of her private email server, Davis blasted a MSNBC anchor, saying she did nothing wrong.
“Mrs. Clinton is in trouble. The growing list of co-conspirators means we’ll know a lot more of the truth in a few months… This is obviously a classic case of government corruption that will be taught in American law schools for the next century.” — Former trial lawyer and Harvard Law School professor who spoke to Peace and Freedom under the condition of anonymity.
Hillary Clinton: Democrats now say foundation and email controversies are both problems — Pay to Play — Perjury — “Growing list of co-conspirators” — “Classic Case of Corruption in Government” — Drip-drip-drip even after Obama Justice Department and FBI refused to investigate further
Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama Take Transparency and Media Control The Way Of China’s Communist Party — And Youthful American Voters Seem OK With This (Includes links to several related articles)
Tags: Anthony Weiner, Associated Press, Blitzer, By KEN THOMAS AND CATHERINE LUCEY, classification of emails, Classified Emails, Clinton's inner circle, CNN, election 2016, F.B.I., FBI, Harvard Law School, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton's emails, Huma Abedin, Huma Abedin Like 'Second Daughter' to Clinton, James Comey, Lanny Davis, lewd photographs, Muslim Brotherhood, New emails creating fresh problems for Hillary Clinton, Pay to Play, presidential campaign, sexting scandal, Wolf Blitzer