First Lady, ‘second daughter’, third act (Washington Diary)

Washington, Aug 27 (IANS) Often called her “second daughter”, she has been a shadow of Hillary Clinton for two decades. Now the Desi woman of mixed Indian-Pakistani heritage threatens to cast a long shadow on Clinton’s presidential ambitions.

Huma Abedin, 40, offspring of an Indian father and a Pakistani mother, has been at her side from her time as First Lady to Secretary of State and now the Democratic presidential nominee.

It was Abedin who served as a conduit between Clinton and the fat cat donors of the Clinton family foundation even as she built a “firewall” for herself at the instance of President Barack Obama before becoming America’s top diplomat.

“Good friend of ours,” a foundation aide wrote to Abedin to get a 10-minute meeting with Clinton in 2009 for the Crown Prince of Bahrain, whose charity donated $32 million for a programme run through the Clinton Global Initiative.

Another email released by conservative watchdog Judicial Watch shows that Clinton even delayed a plane for a 15-minute meeting with Sim Daniel Abraham, founder of Slim-Fast line of diet products, who gave $5 million to $10 million to the family charity.

An AP story based on Clinton’s daily schedules obtained by the agency after suing the State Department, shows that 85 of the 154 non-government persons who met or spoke to her on phone contributed $156 million to the foundation.

In addition, 16 foreign governments donated $170 million to the Clinton charity. “If this is not ‘pay for play’ what is it?” asked Republican rival Donald Trump calling it “one of the most shocking scandals in American political history”.

But the Manhattan mogul who himself was among at least 40 who donated $100,000 each told NH1 News he didn’t do so to seek access and a favour from Hillary Clinton.

“But I will say they liked me a lot,” said Trump. “They liked me a lot. And if I hadn’t made that contribution, they probably wouldn’t have liked me at all.”

Hillary Clinton dismissed the AP story as “absurd”, calling it “all smoke, no fire”, even as her surrogates claimed donors may have got “access” but not any “favours”.

But as a couple of mainstream newspapers joined Trump’s call to shutter the foundation and seek an “expedited investigation by a special prosecutor immediately”, a “hurt” Bill promised to leave the family charity if his wife wins the White House.

Emails also show that Abedin left copies of confidential or classified emails in her car during Clinton’s visit to New Delhi in July 2009.

“I’m going to have ambassador ride on next drive,” wrote Abedin in an email with “Favour” as the subject to Lauren Jiloty, Clinton’s personal assistant. “There’s a bunch of burn stuff in the pocket of my front seat. Can u put it in trunk?” she asked. Jiloty told Abedin she would.

The State Department suggested Abedin did nothing wrong saying that just because the materials were destined for a “burn bag”, doesn’t mean they were classified.

Abedin was also reportedly made a so-called “Special Government Employee” so that she could work simultaneously for the State Department and an outside entity.

Meanwhile, as a federal judge gave the State Department until September 22 to come up with a plan for making public nearly 15,000 new documents uncovered by the FBI, Clinton was unconcerned.

“So we’ve already released, I don’t know, 30,000 plus, so what’s a few more?” she flippantly told a comedy show.

And continuing the blame game, Clinton, according to a New York Times report, told the FBI that former Secretary of State Colin Powell had advised her to use a private email.

Taken aback, the respected four star general called her bluff saying, “Her people have been trying to pin it on me. It doesn’t bother me. It’s OK: I’m free.”

Meanwhile, Trump sent the pundits into a tizzy by his “flip flop” on immigration by first “softening” and then “hardening” his stand on deportation of 11 million illegal immigrants, including an estimated 450,000 from India.

And as the two rivals gave currency to conspiracy theories of Clinton suffering from a “mysterious” illness and Trump being a puppet of Russian president Vladimir Putin, voters wondered when the curtain would fall on this Theatre of the Absurd.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at



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