Huma Abedin is at Clinton's side all the time; she accompanies her during trips and carries her cell phone. Hillary calls Huma her second daughter, and if she wins, she will take her to the very top.
Apparently even Bill Clinton sometimes is not able to get ahold of his wife; Huma Abedin answers the phone. She is present in all the photographs next to the presidential candidate, but she is silent and secretive like a sphinx. Inaccessible to the press – like Hillary. Abedin is her closest adviser and confidante, although officially she is a vice chairwoman of Clinton's campaign for president. If Clinton becomes the president, Abedin might become the White House chief of staff, so she could become one of the most powerful people in the country.
She belongs to the group of Hillary's closest associates, which was formed in the 90s. The White House East Wing staff, where the former first lady had an office, was mainly comprised women whom the president's wife previously knew from husband Bill Clinton's campaign in Arkansas. The new staff was chosen on the basis of competence, but also and foremost, on the basis of unconditional loyalty. For those ladies, Hillary was a hero because she was breaking glass ceilings that block women’s way to the top. That group was named Hillaryland.
Twenty-year-old George Washington University student Abedin secured an internship in the White House in 1996. She was assigned to Hillary's team.
When Clinton became a New York senator, Abedin became her assistant for everything. In American political jargon, she was called a “body woman,” a person responsible for outfits, make up, meals, daily schedules and the politician's meeting calendar, as well as becoming the one who screened people who wished to see the boss. The senator could always count on her; the perfectly organized Huma made Clinton’s every wish her command, as if reading her mind. But she was best at the unpleasant duty of blocking access to Hillary, because she did it so tactfully, that important people did not take offense. But she wasn't only making tea. Huma, who in the beginning wanted to become a journalist, like her idol Christiane Amanpour from CCN and who absorbed knowledge about the world, became the senator’s international relations adviser, or more precisely, Middle East adviser.
She was particularly qualified for that; she is a Muslim who was brought up in the Islam world. She was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, in a well-educated immigrant family from Pakistan. When she was 2 years old, she moved with her parents to Saudi Arabia. She finished primary school and high school there and returned to the U.S. when she was 18. During her studies in Washington, she belonged to the Muslim Students Association. After graduation, as Hillary's assistant, she worked part time on the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, a Muslim immigrants' newspaper.
As an assistant, she accompanied Hillary in 2008 during her first attempt to win the presidential nomination, and when Obama made Hillary secretary of state, the 32-year-old Huma was named Clinton’s deputy chief of staff.
Huma's extraordinary elegance – she always wears make up and dresses designed by fashion gurus – is the reason why Hillary's confidant is always listed in the lifestyle magazines. In 2010, Time included Abedin in its list of America’s top 40 rising political stars. At the
Department of State, she had special government employee status or SGE, which is a classification that meant she was an expert who was allowed to work for the private sector at the same time. She worked at the consulting firm Teneo, co-founded by Bill Clinton's friends and business partners, and at the Clintons' charitable foundation. Today she has had to testify about those connections before a congressional committee.
At the beginning of Hillary's run for president, Huma became the target of attacks by Republican members of Congress close to the tea party, with Michelle Bachmann in the vanguard trying to convince the public that Clinton's second daughter was an agent of the Muslim Brotherhood. The proof offered for that was a slightly complicated matter. Apparently Huma's father founded the Institute for Muslim Minority Affairs in Saudi Arabia, an organization devoted to the problems of Muslim minorities in the world, and which enjoyed the support of local university lecturer Abdul Omar Nasseef. Nasseef is the general secretary of the World Muslim League, an organization financed by the Saudi government, and which preaches Wahhabism, a fundamentalist version of Islam, which is this country's mandatory religion. Although the Muslim League condemns violence and urges outreach to other cultures, the American government noticed the organization in the course of researching terrorist threats. In addition, Huma's mother, a sociology lecturer at a Saudi university, apparently expressed her support for Sharia law.
''Apparently'' is the best word to summarize the worth of the accusations against Abedin. There was never any proof that Huma ever showed sympathy for Muslim fundamentalism. The Islamic State placed her on a list of moderate Muslims who deserved to die, a list of those who are in fact apostates that implement unfaithful laws. It's also hard to see that radical Muslims would like the person she chose to be her husband. In 2010, she married a Jewish New York congressman, Anthony Weiner.
The Clintons attended the wedding where Hillary confessed that she considered Huma, along with Chelsea, as a daughter. Wiener was considered to be a rising star in the Democratic Party. However, it turned out that he had a strange penchant for sending women pictures of himself, including shots of his naked torso and other male bodily details. When the photos became public and the congressman became the subject of tabloid jokes, Huma forgave him. We are a normal family, she persuaded her friends. They already had a little baby at that time. When Weiner ran in the New York mayoral election, Huma helped with his campaign. But then another young woman revealed she had been receiving pictures of an exposed Anthony Weiner from his smartphone, a disclosure that contributed to his defeat in the elections. Huma forgave him for the second time, subjecting herself to comments that ''power is more important to her then dignity'' acting exactly like her boss, who did not divorce her husband despite his betrayals.*
It seemed that Abedin's marriage would survive, and her unemployed husband took care of their child. However, in August, the newspapers published the congressman-exhibitionist's half-naked selfie with his little son sleeping at his side, photos which he sent to another woman.
Enough was enough, especially given that Donald Trump used Wiener's case to attack the “fraudulent” Hillary Clinton. A couple of days later, Huma announced that she and her husband were separating, and asked the public to respect her privacy.
In the Twitter and Facebook World
The press did not leave Abedin alone, and inquired about Hillary’s use of a private server for work emails at the Department of State. As a representative of the young, computerized generation, Abedin helped her boss, who is 28 years older, understand the smartphone, Twitter and Facebook world. During the FBI investigation into Hillary's emails, Huma said she did not know that Hillary was using her private email account; saying that she found out about it only after leaving work at the State Department. But previous testimony by Huma regarding those emails, sworn to during a civil suit filed by a conservative organization called Judicial Watch, contradicts Huma’s statements. She said then that Clinton used a private server so that her private correspondence would not get into the hands of the Congress. But opponents of the Democratic candidate suggest that Hillary chose that way of communication to hide something else: connections between the State Department and the Clintons' charitable foundation, whose activity became another reason to attack Hillary as the personification of political corruption.
Generous donations paid into charity's account by private individuals and corporations, as well as by governments of foreign countries, were, according to people who have accused Hillary of wrongdoing, a kind of bribe for access to the secretary of state, or maybe even the future president of the United States. Arabic countries with autocratic regimes were very keen for Washington to look the other way at human rights violations; and private donors were keen on Washington blinking at business profits or small matters like arranging a visa for a friend. It was not that any quid pro quo took place, or that donors were trying to influence Clinton's politics. But just the fact that a foundation belonging to the ex-president husband of the United States’ chief diplomat was accepting payments amounted to a breach of an agreement between the State Department and the White House to prevent any conflicts of interest and to act transparently. This was considered a breach especially because the names of the suspicious donors were not revealed.
As Hillary's vice chief of staff, Huma was the key link in the network of contacts between the State Department and the Clinton Foundation, where she worked as a consultant. Together with the chief of the foundation, Cheryl Mills, Huma mediated between the diplomats and foundation sponsors. In the emails investigated by the FBI, there was a record of the correspondence between Huma and Douglas Band, charity worker as well as Bill Clinton's best friend. He insisted that Huma arrange a meeting between the U.S. ambassador in Lebanon and Gilbert Chagoury, a Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire, who was willing to donate a couple of million dollars to the Clinton Foundation. Because Chagoury had connections with dodgy individuals in Lebanon and Nigeria, Washington refused him a visa. Huma facilitated his contact with the ambassador but the meeting never took place.
That episode was used by the right and by Trump's camp as an example of there being many other of this kind. They were used to reaffirm the thesis that Clinton's foundation, which helps fight poverty, AIDS and other calamities in the world, is mainly a tool for the Clintons to build a political empire and personal wealth. Why do millions of Americans still believe those accusations, distrust that is confirmed by the fact that 60 percent of Americans believe that Hillary cannot be trusted? Because for more than a year, the Democratic presidential candidate has been unable to publicly admit her mistakes, has refused to answer questions and has provided elusive replies.
The history of scandals and pseudo-scandals from Bill Clinton's administration, like “Whitewater” or “Travelgate,” continued to repeat itself as Hillary, with her army of lawyers, blocked press press access to documents and pretended nothing happened. That was the case until there came a moment when she had to admit to something, and when there was no choice. In this way, rather innocent or non-existent scandals grew out of proportion.
A similar style, using the the completely loyal-to-the-candidate Hillaryland approach, is at play, with Huma Abedin currently being one of its pillars. Clinton's female and male associates are silent and refuse to give interviews. As the people in the know say, everybody tells her what she wants to hear. Nobody dares to criticize her. In this way, a vicious circle is created. A defensive attitude toward public opinion drives which issues in Clinton’s presidential campaign the media presents along with her slips and efforts to hide them, instead of what the candidate has to say about the nation and the world.
She is lucky that her opponent talks gibberish and is equally unpopular.
*Editor’s note: Although this quoted remark is accurately translated, it could not be independently verified.