State Department spokesman Mark Toner ducked questions about the latest Clinton email developments at a press briefing on Monday, including one about Hillary Clinton’s aide Huma Abedin.
“The New York Post has been reporting on the presence of Huma Abedin, for more than a decade, on the masthead of an Islamic journal that published some fairly vile things, including blaming the U.S. for 9/11. In an article by the chief editor, Mrs. Abedin’s mother, the journal claimed that the ‘empowerment of women does more harm than benefit,’” said reporter James Rosen of Fox News, referring to a Paul Sperry piecepublished on Sunday by the Post.
“When Ms. Abedin was cleared to work here in the Department of State — one of the two jobs she held down, during her tenure here — was Ms. Abedin’s association with this journal known to the Secretary, or to anyone else in this building?” Rosen asked.
“James, I don’t have an immediate answer for you on that,” Toner replied. “I haven’t seen these reports, to be honest.”
“What I would say is that we wouldn’t normally talk about someone’s clearance process, except to say that [Mrs. Abedin] has gone through the clearance process, and considering the level of clearance that she would have needed for the job that she held, I can assure you that she was, like any individual would be, fully vetted. But I can’t speak to these specific allegations,” Toner said.
“The presence of a State Department employee, or a prospective employee, on the masthead of a journal that is published and disseminated, would typically be the kind of thing that those who do the vetting around here would, in fact, uncover, correct?” Rosen asked.
“Again, I think they look at a broad range of material,” Toner replied. “They conduct extensive interviews with friends, families. And when they go to those friends and families, they get second and third sources to talk about what an individual’s connections and others may be. But beyond that, I don’t want to speak in any great detail about how that process works.”
“Can you take the question of whether Secretary Clinton knew about Huma Abedin’s presence on the masthead of this journal for 12 years?” Rosen pressed.
“I can certainly take it. I’m not sure I can get you a clear answer for that,” said Toner. “For one thing, I don’t know that we would speak on behalf of Secretary Clinton, who now has left the State Department, and is no longer here. And I’m just not, in all candor, sure that I’m able to talk about what was shared about an employee’s security clearance, it might be of a confidential nature.”