Hillary Rodham Clinton personally signed off on the controversial deal in 2012 that let her top aide Huma Abedin simultaneously work for the State Department and a private New York firm with deep ties to the Clinton family, according to records made public Thursday.
The State Department emails released to select congressional committees and the watchdog group Judicial Watch also show that almost immediately after Ms. Abedin got permission to work in New York for the Teneo Group, she tried to get the federal government to pay the cost of her commuting back and forth to Washington to serve as a senior adviser to Mrs. Clinton, who was then the secretary of state.
“I need to come down to state tomorrow. Can state start paying for my travel since ny is now my base?” Ms. Abedin asked in an email to a top State Department administrative official on March 27, 2012, around the time her deal to become a special government employee (SGE) was struck.
Just four days earlier, Mrs. Clinton personally signed a title change form that approved Ms. Abedin, one of her most trusted aides, transitioning from being her deputy chief staff and a formal federal employee, to an SGE, the equivalent of a contractor with special privileges.
The change freed Ms. Abedin also to work simultaneously in the private sector for the Teneo Group, a consulting firm in New York run by top Clinton confidant Doug Band, where Bill Clinton also collected a salary as a paid adviser.
State officials said Thursday night they did not immediately know whether Ms. Abedin got taxpayer reimbursement for her travel costs.
Sen. Charles Grassley, Iowa Republican and Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, has been investigating whether Ms. Abedin’s simultaneous work for both State and Teneo created improper conflicts of interest while allowing her to “double dip” on salaries.
Federal investigators also have concluded that Ms. Abedin billed for more hours than allowed for an SGE contractor, according to investigative documents obtained by The Washington Times.
Ms. Abedin’s lawyer, Miguel Rodriguez, has denied she did anything wrong and accused Mr. Grassley of a political witchhunt.
He did not return a call Thursday seeking comment from the Times.
But documents first reported earlier this month by the Times show the State Department’s own internal investigator believed Ms. Abedin might have engaged in embezzlement via inaccurate timesheets and concluded she was overpaid by about $10,000 in federal salary.
And the new documents further support questions Mr. Grassley has posed to the Obama administration.
For instance, the senator asked weeks ago whether Ms. Abedin was ever reimbursed by taxpayers so she could travel between her private job in New York and her federal job in Washington.
Mr. Grassley also has questioned whether the deal with Ms. Abedin really met the requirements for a special government employee status. One of those requirements is that someone’s work as a contractor be different enough from the original job to warrant giving the person contractor status.
But the documents released Thursday show Ms. Abedin told State officials she planned to do the same type of work as an SGE as she did as deputy chief of staff.
“MY NEW POSITION IS THE SAME AS MY OLD POSITION,” Ms. Abedin wrote in all caps to a State Department colleague on June 5, 2012.