Grassley vows to dig deeper on Huma Abedin

July 26, 2013
New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner, left, listens as his wife Huma Abedin speaks during a news conference at the Gay Men's Health Crisis headquarters, Tuesday, July 23, 2013, in New York. The former congressman says he's not dropping out of the New York City mayoral race in light of newly revealed explicit online correspondence with a young woman. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner, left, listens as his wife, Huma Abedin, speaks during a news conference July 23  in New York. (Kathy Willens/AP)

The top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee said Thursday that the State Department and Huma Abedin, the wife of former congressman Anthony Weiner, have put up "a stone wall" in the face of his inquiry about her final months at the agency, and vowed to continue raising questions about Abedin's employment status.

"So far, the State Department and Ms. Abedin haven’t provided a single document that I requested," Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) said in a statement. "Putting up a stone wall raises a lot more questions about how the program is being used than it answers. I intend to pursue more complete answers to my questions."

At issue is the employment status Abedin used at the State Department during the final eight months of her tenure there. Abedin, a longtime aide to Hillary Clinton, served as deputy chief of staff in then-Secretary Clinton's office from early 2009 until June 2012, when she became a "Special Government Employee" for the remainder of her time at the department. She left the agency in February.

Abedin's new position allowed her to function as a contractor, continuing to work for the State Department as she also took on work for three outside clients: Clinton's transition office, the William J. Clinton Foundation and Teneo Holdings, a company founded by Doug Band, who worked in the White House counsel's office under Bill Clinton.

Politico first reported Abedin's change in employment status in May, prompting Grassley to ask for more clarity.

"It appears that Teneo may have been compensating Ms. Abedin for gathering information from government sources for the purpose of informing investment decisions of her clients — or in other words, political intelligence," wrote Grassley in a letter dated June 13.

Grassley on Thursday released the responses he received from Abedin and the State Department, which confirmed the switch in employment status that occurred last summer. Abedin said the birth of her son in December 2011 prompted her to make the switch. She wanted to spend the bulk of her time in New York with her family, she said.

Abedin said her work at Teneo involved "providing strategic advice and consulting services to the firm's management team" and helping to organize an annual event. Abedin said her work there did not involve the State Department.

"I was not asked, nor did I undertake, any work on Teneo's behalf before the State Department (and I should note that it is my understanding that Teneo does not conduct business with the Department of State)," Abedin wrote the State Department. "I also was not asked, nor did I provide, insights about the Department, my work with the Secretary, or any government information to which I may have had access."

Among other things, Grassley had asked for a record of communications between Teneo and the State Department, as well as a record of of communications between the State Department and any clients represented by Teneo. He said his aim was to learn whether the SGE program is being used as intended, "not just by Ms. Abedin, but more broadly, as well."

The development comes as Weiner has embarked on a campaign for mayor of New York City. He recently acknowledged participating in sexually explicit online conversations with women even after he resigned from Congress over the same issue in 2011. Abedin has said she continues to support her husband's bid.

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.
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