Clinton aide and confidante was overpaid at State Department

State Department investigators have concluded that Huma Abedin, one of Hillary Clinton’s closest aides, was overpaid by nearly $10,000 while working at the State Department, the Washington Post reports. The finding emerged publicly from letters sent by Sen. Charles Grassley to Secretary of State Kerry seeking more information about an investigation into possible criminal conduct by Abedin.

The finding against Abedin, which she disputes, is that she was improperly paid while on leave. According to Sen. Grassley’s description of the investigation’s findings, Abedin’s time sheets indicate that she never took vacation or sick leave during her four years at the State Department. However, the investigation discovered that Abedin did, in fact, take time off, including a 10-day trip to Italy. In emails, she told colleagues that she was out “on leave.”

Overpayment isn’t the only serious misconduct that Clinton’s confidante may have indulged in. There is also the matter of conflict-of-interest.

For part of her time at the State Department, Abedin had what the Post euphemistically calls a “special employment relationship.” Clinton permitted her to work not just for State, but also for the Clinton Foundation and for a private firm with close ties to the Clintons — Teneo, headed by long-time Bill Clinton aide, Doug Band.

The potential for conflicted interests is obvious. For instance, Grassley says that Band emailed Abedin to seek her help in landing a White House appointment for a friend. The friend led a charity that later hired Band’s firm and donated to the Clinton Foundation (a typical case of modern-day Clinton “triangulation”).

Abedin’s defense, via her attorney, is that Band’s friend got the White House appointment before her charity hired Teneo and before Teneo hired Abedin (but were these moves already in the works?). Regardless of the timing, this sequence demonstrates the potential for conflicts of interest created by Abedin’s “special employment relationship.”

By allowing it, Clinton wasn’t just helping a friend boost her income. She was increasing the potential leverage of the Clinton machine, and in ways that could, and maybe did, benefit the Clinton Foundation. The Abedin scandal is thus related to the “Clinton cash” scandal.

It is also related to Hillary’s email scandal. According to Grassley, the State Department investigators have “reason to believe that email evidence relevant to [its] inquiry was contained in emails sent and received from her account on Secretary Clinton’s non-government server, making them unavailable to [the investigators’ office] through its normal statutory right of access to records.”

Was Hillary lying when she said she used a private server in the interest of convenience? It depends on what the meaning of convenience is.