WikiLeaks: Clinton Campaign Was 'Partially Cooperative' on Politico Profile With Aim of 'Demystifying' Abedin

By Susan Jones | November 1, 2016 | 11:20am EDT
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and her top aide Huma Abedin buy ice cream in Lebanon, N.H., on July 3, 2015. (AP File Photo)

( - Asked to provide a quotation for a Politico profile of Huma Abedin in July 2015, Clinton Campaign manager John Podesta wanted to use the phrase "wicked smart" instead of "bright," and he emphasized Abedin's "strategic sense."

Podesta also agreed with a campaign staffer's suggestion to describe Abedin as "an integral part of the team."

The Wikileaks email exchange, dated July 2, 2015 and released on Tuesday, begins with Clinton's press secretary Nicholas Merrill telling Milia Fisher, Podesta's aide, that "Politico has been working on a profile on Huma that we are being what I'd call partially cooperative with."

Merrill said after consulting with Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri and Huma herself, the campaign decided to have the reporter sit down with Huma "off the record."

"We think there is some value in demystifying her a bit in general, and Politico isn't a bad place to do it," Merrill wrote to Fisher.

Merrill asked Fisher to see if Podesta "would be willing to weigh in, which I think would be good in the spirit of showing team unity."

"The piece will be about Huma's evolution from body person to senior staffer, so if he's up for it, maybe John could say something about her being a multi-faceted team player," Merrill wrote. Then he offered a suggested quotation:

"Like: I was there at the White House when Huma was a young intern, and now she's an integral part of the team. She's as multi-faceted as she is bright, and when you combine that with her humility, you couldn't ask for a better colleague."

Merrill tells Fisher, "Feel free to tweak that, put it in John's voice, or blow it up."

Fisher forwarded Merrill's email to Podesta, asking him if he'd be willing to provide a quote. "Comms (communications) thinks it might lend an air of community to the piece," she wrote to Podesta.

Podesta's reply: "Change bright to 'wicked smart' and after humilty add 'and strategic sense.'"

The complete email exchange, as provided by WikiLeaks, can be seen here:

The July 2, 2015 Politico profile of Abedin described her as "Clinton’s longest-serving aide." It said that "like a mother monitoring her child on the playground, she never let Clinton drift out of her line of sight, ever vigilant and poised to act."

The Politico piece also noted that "Abedin has been elevated to the most senior member of Clinton’s old guard, and the person filling a role Clinton has always valued: the strong, trusted, female adviser."

Abedin is now off the campaign trail, after FBI Director James Comey told Congress on Friday that the FBI is reviewing emails -- apparently hundreds of thousands of them -- found on a home computer that Abedin shared with her estranged husband Anthony Weiner. The FBI is trying to determine if classified emails sent through Clinton's private server ended up on Abedin's laptop.

At a campaign stop in Ohio on Monday, Clinton described Abedin as "one of my staffers."

"But I will tell you this," Clinton said.  If they want to look at some more emails of one of my staffers, by all means, go ahead, look at them. And I know they will reach the same conclusion they reached when they looked at my emails last year. It wasn't even a close call..."

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