A dinner for Hillary Clinton that took place in Dublin in December 2012 is at the fore of recent questions regarding the former Secretary of State’s emails and the role of her close personal assistant Huma Abedin.
Critics of Abedin’s role have tried to implicate her in a conflcit of interest while consulting with Irish owned communications firm Teneo and also working with Secretary Clinton.
Abedin, who has worked with Clinton since interning with her in the 1990s as a student at George Washington University, has come under fire from Republicans for the dual roles she played as both a state and a private employee during Clinton’s term as Secretary of State.
At the time, Abedin, now 40, was technically under the employment of four different employers, all linked to the Clintons. Though she worked with the State Department, she held a special government designation that allowed her to also be employed privately elsewhere.
Republican critics have claimed that Abedin should never have received that special designation and argue that her roles as a public and a private employee created a conflict of interest.
Abedin has vehemently denied that there was any conflict, and Clinton supporters have labeled the line of questioning into her work as “unfortunate and unfounded.”
The Washington Post explains how all of Abedin’s varying roles intersected at that one Dublin dinner:
“The invitation was sent from Abedin’s State Department account as Clinton planned for an official trip in her role as secretary. The dinner was attended by (Declan Kelly) the chief executive of the private consulting firm Teneo, which has close ties to the Clintons and employed Abedin as an adviser. Seated around the tables were donors to Hillary Clinton’s campaigns as well as to the Clinton Foundation, where Abedin was a contractor preparing for Clinton’s eventual transition to the charity. And Clinton, who was also paying Abedin out of personal funds to prepare for her transition from secretary of state to private life, showed up for about an hour.”
The details of the dinner have emerged in the wake of a records request made by the conservative group Citizens United. As ordered by a judge, the State Department is releasing emails from Clinton’s term as Secretary of State.
The Dublin dinner, which took place at the end of Clinton’s final trip to Europe as Secretary of State, was held at a private club on St. Stephen’s Green and hosted by hotelier and chairman of the American Ireland Fund John Fitzpatrick, a friend and supporter of Clinton’s.
Those in attendance included Stella O’Leary of the Irish American Democrats lobby group and IrishCentral’s founder and publisher Niall O’Dowd.
As O’Dowd shared in a column written after the dinner, the conversation that evening primarily centered upon memories of the Clintons’ past trips to Ireland and Northern Ireland, where they were instrumental in the success of the Peace Process.
When Clinton was asked during the dinner about her potential plans to enter the 2016 presidential race, Abedin chimed in that her next step would simply be “vacation.”
Speaking to the Washington Post about Abedin’s work with Clinton, Stella O’Leary described her as instrumental in navigating and balancing all of the demands on Clinton’s time and attention. “There will be times when we’re all feuding among ourselves about who’s getting the most attention, and Huma works it out. She’s very diplomatic and calm,” O’Leary said. “She’s so sweet and nice and puts up with unbelievable nonsense.”