Huma Abedin, the formidable, ever-present campaign vice-chairwoman of the Clinton campaign, has been called everything from Hillary Clinton’s “body woman” to a Muslim brotherhood agent, from Clinton’s closest adviser to her secret lover. The latter characterizations reveal how her status as a Muslim, and as one of the most powerful women in Washington, have made her suspect on the right. But the larger mystery of Huma Abedin remains a source of endless fascination for the press.
The release of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s hacked e-mails, published October 7 by Wikileaks, promised a tantalizing look into Abedin’s inner life and her relationship with Clintonworld. Is she, as Vanity Fair’s William Cohan has written, Hillary Clinton’s secret weapon or her next big problem? The reality, it seems, is both less salacious and more interesting. As Politico notes, having reviewed the trove of Wikileaks documents, Abedin is essentially Clinton’s “external hard drive,” whose mind holds a near-exact copy of the Democratic nominee’s history and thought process. In one 2015 e-mail, for instance, Clinton staff are trying to figure out how the soon-to-be candidate should respond to the announcement of Loretta Lynch as attorney general. “Pretty sure [Clinton] knows her, but not certain,” Podesta wrote to a group of aides. “+ Huma.”
Abedin quickly responded with a quick summary of their entire relationship. “She knows Loretta,” she replied. “Not an extremely close relationship and don’t remember last time they connected. She was in running to be [Eliot] Spitzer LG [Lieutenant Governor] years ago. Hrc wanted Leecia Eve, others pushed Lynch. Regardless, definitely a cordial relationship. I would vote for a tweet.”
In another 2015 e-mail flagged by Politico, Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook pens a “Huma memo” to Podesta, discussing what role Abedin might play in the campaign and how her close relationship with the candidate makes her irreplaceable. “One issue I didn’t resolve is how much we’d want her to still participate in scheduling if she does the HQ job. I think it’s helpful for her to participate in calls and meetings because she’s the institutional memory—and that’s always invaluable.”
This portrait of Abedin as a walking Wikipedia of Clinton’s life squares with the assessment of one former adviser to Bill Clinton, who described Huma to Vanity Fair as “a mini Hillary.” As Bill Cohan reported earlier this year, Abedin has been referred to as a “second daughter” to the Clintons, while others have described Hillary and Huma as like sisters. Having begun working for Clinton in 1996, when she was a 19-year-old intern, the two women have surely spent more time together than with either of their philandering husbands. Perhaps another analogy that could be added to the list is that Huma Abedin, after twenty years as Clinton’s “shadow,” has effectively become Hillary Clinton herself, or at least a serviceable backup drive. She is, as Politico puts it, the “invaluable, irreplaceable uber-assistant of every powerful person’s dreams.”
H/t reader kevin a.