- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 1, 2015

Hillary Rodham Clinton has undertaken another mission with her presidential campaign: to rehabilitate the battered image of longtime aide and confidante Huma Abedin.

The steps Mrs. Clinton has taken to raise the profile of Ms. Abedin in the campaign include using her prominently in a fundraising email and deploying her to Twitter for the first time.

The email featuring Ms. Abedin was released with the subject line, “I believe in Hillary — do you?”

It was the first time that Ms. Abedin, who serves as vice chairwoman of Hillary for America but remains mostly behind the scenes, stepped out to become the face of the campaign for a fundraising pitch. But the message raised eyebrows because Ms. Abedin has become increasingly entangled in the scandal swirling around her boss and has created some of her own controversy.

Clinton supporters received the email two days before the Sept. 30 deadline for quarterly fundraising reports to the Federal Election Commission.

Hillary and I are on the road a lot. When we travel, Hillary relies on me for campaign updates. There’s one thing she’s going to ask this week: How many people stepped up and gave before the FEC fundraising deadline?” Ms. Abedin wrote.

“I want to be able to say, ‘Hillary, look how many people are with you in this fight.’ Be by her side — donate $1 or whatever you can before the deadline,” she said.

Democratic campaign strategists said that putting Ms. Abedin in the fundraising email was not as much about helping the aide as it was about helping Mrs. Clinton, the top contender for her party’s presidential nomination.

“Here’s a little secret: The more some people get attacked and trashed, the more effective they are at raising money,” said Craig Varoga, a campaign adviser to top Democrats including former President Bill Clinton. “The best defense is always an offense, and it’s also a good fundraising tactic.”

Joe Trippi, a veteran of several Democratic presidential campaigns, said the email demonstrates that the Clinton campaign is not worried that Ms. Abedin has become a liability.

“This email is the same one I would have sent out for Howard Dean or that would have gone out in the final push of a quarter for Barack Obama,” he said. “If they were concerned, she wouldn’t be vice chair of the campaign. They’re not, and this is a pretty standard ‘48 hours left’ email.”

Ms. Abedin also took to Twitter for the first time last month. In her first tweet, she took a swipe at Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson for saying he didn’t think a Muslim should be president.

“You can be a proud American, a proud Muslim, and proudly serve this great country. Pride versus prejudice,” tweeted Ms. Abedin, who is Muslim.

Clinton campaign press secretary Nick Merrill then boosted her Twitter account with a tweet of his own that included a behind-the-scenes video of Ms. Abedin’s first tweet. “This is too good not to share. @HumaAbedin pressing send for the first time,” he wrote.

Each of these actions was uncharacteristic of Ms. Abedin, who has labored to maintain her privacy and keep herself out of the limelight despite her close orbit around the power and celebrity of Mrs. Clinton.

Ms. Abedin’s husband, former Rep. Anthony D. Weiner of New York, who resigned in 2011 amid a sexting scandal, took to the airwaves last month to defend his wife when Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump said she probably shared confidential information with the disgraced congressman.

“I think the idea to take someone who’s served in government for 20 years and impugn her in that way is outrageous. I mean, he wants to make me a campaign issue. I’m not going to indulge that,” Mr. Weiner said on New York’s NY1 news channel.

“Anyone who’s ever worked with her knows that not only is she eminently qualified, but she does her job with skill and with grace and has done it for a very long time, making enormous sacrifices for our country,” he said.

Mr. Trump retaliated with a tweet in which he insisted that Ms. Abedin was a security risk as the “wife of perv sleazebag Anthony Weiner.”

Ms. Abedin has been at Mrs. Clinton’s side throughout her career. She started as an intern to Mrs. Clinton at the White House and became a top aide and close companion to Mrs. Clinton in the U.S. Senate, on the 2008 presidential campaign trail and at the State Department.

She has become one of the regular cast of characters in the controversy over Mrs. Clinton’s exclusive use of a private email account to conduct official business as secretary of state. Ms. Abedin’s name pops up in most of the email strings as the State Department releases all of the email on a rolling basis.

Ms. Abedin also has come under scrutiny for her own use of private email on the job, for collecting huge overtime payments while at the State Department and for her unusual employment arrangement, which allowed her to work simultaneously for the government and for Teneo Holdings.

Her work for Teneo, a business advisory firm run by longtime Clinton crony Douglas Band, raised potential conflicts of interest that are under investigation by the State Department inspector general.

One of her tasks at Teneo was organizing a reception that included speeches by Mrs. Clinton’s husband, Bill Clinton, along with George W. Bush and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, to impress clients, The Washington Times first reported.

Planning for the gala at the posh Essex House in New York was one of her specific projects during a seven-month period in which she earned a $15,000-a-month consulting fee from Teneo while receiving pay as a “special government employee” advising Mrs. Clinton at the State Department.

Meanwhile, more questions surfaced about Ms. Abedin.

The latest release of Mrs. Clinton’s private email used for official business at the State Department revealed that Ms. Abedin apparently had access to her boss’ account.

In message sent Nov. 11, 2010, from Mrs. Clinton’s email address, Ms. Abedin indicated that she was the author.

“Hey it’s Huma. She can’t talk right now. She will call when she gets in car. What flight u on? Can u email me on other email?” Ms. Abedin apparently wrote in the email to Mrs. Clinton’s deputy chief of staff and top foreign policy adviser, Jake Sullivan.

Cybersecurity analyst Alex McGeorge said the arrangement raised concerns.

“Am I surprised that aides had access to her email? No, I am not. Is that a security no-no? Yes,” said Mr. McGeorge, a senior researcher at the cybersecurity firm Immunity Inc.

“For someone as high-profile as Mrs. Clinton, you want as few people having access to that account as possible. However, the logistics of being Hillary Clinton are probably formidable enough that she requires help,” he said.

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