Federal investigators opened a criminal investigation into whether top Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin improperly took maternity and vacation time while working at the State Department, but the Justice Department declined to follow through on its findings, according to documents unveiled in the case.
The FBI opened its criminal investigation into allegations of theft in 2013, reports Politico, after Abedin and her husband, former Rep. Anthony Weiner, traveled to Europe in 2011 for a "babymoon" before their child was born.
According to reports, Abedin filed timesheets that charged the government for overtime, vacation pay, and maternity leave after she became a State Department contractor. When she left the department, she received a $33,000 lump-sum payment, but almost $11,000 of that was deemed improper by investigators.
She has admitted that she likely did not fill a required form when she went on the two-week vacation, resulting in the vacation time being cashed out to her in the lump-sum payment.
It is not clear why the Justice Department's public integrity unit didn't take up the investigation, reports Politico, but the case is now being handled through a claim process, with State asking Abedin to repay the vacation time pay.
Clinton campaign spokesman Nick Merrill said the news that the matter is being handled as an administrative claim exonerates Abedin.
"This is someone who has spent nearly two decades in public service, and is widely known for her integrity and tireless work ethic,” said Merrill in a statement for this story. “After the birth of her son, she took maternity leave. The IG had questions about the details of her leave, Huma answered. There is a review ongoing. Anything beyond that is the product of partisan leaks with a clear agenda.”
Abedin's attorneys say they're trying to fight the overpayment issue, as they can prove she was working during the maternity leave and vacation time in question, even though she did not log it in properly to the State Department system.
Meanwhile, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley has been trying to determine if State's watchdog has been trying to elevate the disagreement into a criminal inquiry. He claims the denials don't match up with the State Department's investigative general's notice, and has written to Abedin's legal team to seek further information.
One of Abedin's attorneys, Miguel Rodriguez said the case has never been a criminal investigation, as the Inspector General cannot prosecute criminal allegations.
"That is the province of the Department of Justice, which rightly declined to pursue this matter involving the State Department's miscalculation of a new mother's maternity leave and personal leave," said Rodriguez.
The IG report has not yet been made public, but Grassley said the watchdog also found Abedin billed State for more than she was permitted and also exceeded the government's time limit for contractors by more than 100 days.
Abedin, in her last months at State, also received paychecks from the Clinton Foundation and a private-sector consulting firm, leading Grassley to question if she was guilty of a conflict of interest.