As Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid gears up, it has been revealed by emails and interviews that her aide Huma Abedin has become the most powerful person in the campaign organization and “indispensable” in the candidate’s life.
“Huma’s influence is so pervasive and Hillary’s dependence on her so total that it is expected she will have her own bedroom upstairs in the White House,” a Clinton associate says. “After 20 years as Hillary’s gatekeeper, no one else could screen the calls and decide who gets access as ably as she does.”
In an article called “Hillary’s Shadow” on politico.com, veteran reporter Annie Karni writes that Huma was “the only official channel to Clinton over the past year” and has been “elevated to the most senior member of Clinton’s old guard.” In that capacity, “Huma is occupying a perch overseeing the campaign operation.” She even pre-interviewed and helped select the campaign manager, Robby Mook.
“In thousands of emails released last week by the State Department, Abedin’s omnipresent role organizing Clinton’s life was clearly on display,” Politico continues. “Former vice president Al Gore, Sen. Chuck Schumer, and even former president Bill Clinton all phoned Abedin to reach Clinton.”
In fact, Hillary doesn’t even carry a cell phone with her. Huma totes several mobiles on a special belt she wears, answers them all, then screens the calls to determine who gets to speak to Hillary. “It’s been like that for years,” said the associate.
Abedin, now 39, began working in the East Wing of the White House as an intern to the First Lady in 1995 (coincidentally, the same year that Monica Lewinsky began her duties as an intern in the West Wing). “Clinton and Abedin share a visible bond that comes from having spent the majority of the past two decades side by side,” writes Politico. “The two of them have spent more time with each other than with their families.”
When Clinton travels, she books a suite with an interior connecting door to Huma’s bedroom, so her aide can bring her the telephone if there are urgent calls and is available for late-night conversation if Hillary is restless or has insomnia. According to Politico, “The role of body woman comes naturally to Abedin, and her hovering presence is what normal feels like for Clinton.”
“You need total confidentiality. That’s where someone like Huma is indispensable,” Phil Gordon, former assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs, told Politico.
“Hillary is psychologically dependent on having access to Huma 24 hours a day. When they are apart, she calls her constantly. That’s why it would be essential for Clinton, if she becomes president, to have Huma sleeping at nights in the presidential residence,” said a former associate, who agreed to speak on a non-attribution basis.
It is expected that Hillary, in emulation of her hero Eleanor Roosevelt, will install Huma in the second-floor bedroom occupied during the FDR administration by Lorena Hickok, the journalist who was Mrs. Roosevelt’s soulmate and intimate companion. To relax from her duties as First Lady, Eleanor took automobile trips of several weeks’ duration with Hickok and without the Secret Service, something that would be impossible today.
Abedin and Clinton also schedule private time together to escape from official functions. Richard Johnson wrote on pagesix.com that in February Huma and Hillary slipped in after the house lights were lowered to enjoy the Broadway play Disgraced.
Friends say that Huma’s husband Anthony Weiner has been “extraordinarily understanding” about her need to devote almost all of her time to her boss and her boss’s campaign for president. He willingly babysits their 3-year-old son while his wife stays by Hillary’s side around the clock. Weiner also hopes that by accommodating Hillary’s needs, he will regain the trust of the Clintons, who have refused to be photographed with him since his Twitter photo and sexting scandal forced his resignation from Congress and torpedoed his campaign for mayor of NYC.
If Hillary makes it to the White House, so will Huma Abedin
by Richard Johnson
Abedin was “the only official channel to Clinton over the past year” and has been “elevated to the most senior member of Clinton’s old guard,” Politico.com’s Annie Karni states.
“Huma’s influence is so pervasive, and Hillary’s dependence on her so total, that it is expected she will have her own bedroom upstairs in the White House,” a Clinton associate told OrbMagazine’s Richard Turley. “After 20 years as Hillary’s gatekeeper, no one else could screen the calls and decide who gets access as ably as she does.”
Orb predicts Clinton, in emulation of her hero Eleanor Roosevelt, will install Huma in the second-floor bedroom occupied during the FDR administration by Lorena Hickok, “the journalist who was Mrs. Roosevelt’s soul mate and intimate companion.”
Although the 2016 election is only just beginning, Hillary Clinton already looks to emulate the Roosevelts in her plans for the White House.
It’s always a risky game to speculate on where the line between reality and a reporter’s speculations may lay, but a recent bit of theorizing has certainly caught the national eye. Reporting not so much on the indelible bond between Hillary Clinton and her longtime adviser Huma Abedin (no news there), Richard Turley of Orbmagazine instead writes about the possibility that Madame Secretary has not quite apprehended the perils of counting chickens before their gestation and is already parceling out White House real estate, most conspicuously to the aforementioned Ms. Abedin. Reports Turley:
It is expected that Hillary, in emulation of her hero Eleanor Roosevelt, will install Huma in the second-floor bedroom occupied during the FDR administration by Lorena Hickok, the journalist who was Mrs. Roosevelt’s soul mate and intimate companion. To relax from her duties as First Lady, Eleanor took automobile trips of several weeks’ duration with Hickok and without the Secret Service, something that would be impossible today.
Interesting stuff—and it might even be true. Certainly, Clinton has previously reported herself as channeling Mrs. Roosevelt’s thoughts. For Hillary to channel Eleanor’s actions hardly seems a reach.
The History of Roosevelt’s Housemates
But the Hickok room assignment (intriguing as it was—and is) was only a small portion of the Roosevelt family’s ability to turn friends and advisers into permanent houseguests, if perhaps not quite family.
The trend started not with Hickok, but with Franklin Roosevelt’s earliest significant political advisor, the gnomish, unsightly, and unsanitary former newsman, Louis McHenry Howe. Howe eventually resided in the White House’s fabled Lincoln Bedroom, but that was just his final stop aboard the Roosevelt express. As Howe’s own long-time aide, Lila Stiles, explained, “[Howe] didn’t see that living in Washington would be so much. After all, he lived there eight years when he was with Roosevelt in the Navy Department. And as for living in the White House, well, he had always lived with the Roosevelts whether in New York, Hyde Park, or Albany, and he didn’t take much room anyway.”
Next to take advantage of Franklin’s hospitality was his personal secretary, Marguerite “Missy” LeHand. Some may debate how close their relationship was. Suffice it to say it was close enough for FDR to provide for her in his will to the extent of half his estate. It was also close in terms of physical proximity. Like Howe, Missy too occupied the White House after previously residing with the Roosevelt family. Of Missy’s arrangements in Albany’s executive mansion, Franklin and Eleanor’s son, Elliott, wrote:
Mother [Eleanor] allocated a back bedroom as her own. Around the corner and down the hall on the second floor, Father had the imposing master bedroom with big windows on two sides, next to Missy’s. These two rooms were joined by a little door with clear glass panels, curtained on her side. Mother thought that this was a perfectly suitable arrangement in view of the role Missy played in Father’s life.
It was not unusual to enter his sunny corner room and find Missy with him in her nightgown. There was no attempt to conceal their relationship. . . .
I would go in at the start of the day, and the three of us would talk with no embarrassment between us. It was no mystery. Mother had not shared life with Father for more than twenty years. . . .
I am certain that she had no fear of sin in their relationship, in spite of her Catholic background.
Whatever the full extent of the FDR-LeHand relationship may have been, she occasionally dated other men, among them Franklin’s perhaps most influential adviser, Harry Hopkins. Perhaps not surprisingly, at this point, it will be noted that Hopkins too would eventually occupy White House quarters. For three-and-a-half years, Hopkins resided in Abraham Lincoln’s former second-floor office (where Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation). His young daughter Diana and her poodle Suzy lived on the floor above. Father and daughter continued at the White House for some time even after the widower Hopkins remarried in summer 1942. That war-time housing shortage was indeed murder.
So if history must indeed repeat itself (and on, at least, one level “sure-thing” Hillary must feverishly hope it does not), we might not just see Huma Abedin residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but also Sydney Blumenthal, Cheryl Mills, John Podesta, etc. etc. etc.
Forget the “West Wing” and get to work building a “North Wing” or “South Wing” —company’s coming!
Award-winning historian David Pietrusza is the author of a series of studies on twentieth-century presidential elections, including the forthcoming “1932: The Rise of Hitler and FDR, Two Tales of Politics, Betrayal, and Unlikely Destiny.”