Former President Bill Clinton sought approval from the State Department for speaking engagements related to North Korea and the Democratic Republic of Congo while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State, according to emails obtained by ABC News. Both countries are thought to be complicit in a number of human rights violations.
In the emails, a representative for the Clinton Foundation passes along to a State Department official an invite to a speaking engagement in Brazzaville, Congo that would earn Clinton a speaking fee of $650,000. ABC notes the leaders of the Congo and Democratic Republic of the Congo required photos with the former president as a condition of the speech. DRC leader Joseph Kabila has been widely criticized for maneuvering to stay in power indefinitely past his term. A group that helps Clinton organize his speeches, called the Harry Walker Agency, recommended that he decline the invite.
In another set of emails that begin with the subject line “North Korea invitation,” the Clinton Foundation representative wrote to the state department, ““Is it safe to assume [the U.S. Government] would have concerns about WJC accepting the attached invitation related to North Korea?” A State Department official instructed the Clinton Foundation to decline the offer.
Huge speaking fees drawn by both Clintons, sometimes from controversial foreign governments and figures, have come under scrutiny amid Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.
“As a matter of course, all requests were run by the State Department,” a press official in Bill Clinton’s office told ABC News, arguing that the Clinton Foundation was not pushing to get the speeches approved. “Ultimately, the President did not give these speeches.”