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ABC: Bill Clinton Pushed Hillary's State Dept. for $650K Congo Speech

Image: ABC: Bill Clinton Pushed Hillary's State Dept. for $650K Congo Speech
Former President Bill Clinton. (Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)

By    |   Friday, 28 Aug 2015 11:06 AM

Former President Bill Clinton attempted repeatedly to get approval from Hillary Clinton's State Department for lucrative speaking engagements in "two of the most repressive countries in the world — North Korea and the Democratic Republic of the Congo," according to ABC News.

"While Hillary Clinton served as secretary of state, Bill Clinton earned speaking fees around the globe totaling more than $48 million — speeches that had to be vetted by the State Department to ensure there were no conflicts of interest with his wife's work as America's top diplomat," ABC’s Jonathan Karl reported. "These newly revealed emails show speech requests that the State Department refused to approve.

"The emails — which have come to light because of a public records request by the conservative group Citizens United, which sued the State Department to get the documents — show just how far Bill Clinton was willing to go to earn those lucrative fees — seeking approval for appearances with ties to two of the most brutal countries in the world."

In May 2012, Clinton Foundation foreign policy director Amitabh Desai emailed Cheryl Mills, Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff during her tenure as secretary, and two other State Department officials, asking: "Is it safe to assume [the U.S. Government] would have concerns about WJC accepting the attached invitation related to North Korea?"

WJC stands for William Jefferson Clinton.

Though Mills instructed Desai to "Decline it," Desai emailed again three weeks later letting State know that "the invite came via Hillary Clinton's brother Tony Rodham," according to ABC.

"We would be grateful for any specific concerns that we could share," Desai wrote. "Tony is seeing WJC in a couple hours."

Mills responded that Desai should tell the former president that "if he needs more let him know his wife knows and I am happy to call him secure when he is near a secure line."

The emails obtained by ABC News contained no details or explanation of the North Korea event.

A month later, Desai forwarded to Mills an invitation for Bill Clinton to speak in Brazzaville, Congo. For the $650,000 speaking fee, dictators of the Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo required photos with the former president.

According to the email, the Harry Walker Agency, which helps Bill Clinton coordinate his speeches, advised the 42nd president to decline the invitation based on "the particularly grim human rights record of the Democratic Republic of Congo and its leader, Joseph Kabila."

The Harry Walker Agency specifically pointed out that the "prevalence and intensity of sexual violence against women in eastern Congo is widely described as the worst in the world."

Desai asked Mills and other State Department employees, including longtime Clinton aide Huma Abedin, about the possibility of the former president accepting the speaking engagement, but donating the entire fee to his foundation.

"WJC wants know what state thinks of it if he took it 100% for the foundation," Desai wrote using Clinton’s initials. "We'd welcome your thoughts."

Clinton did not deliver either of the speeches.

Citizens United obtained the emails after suing the State Department for failing to provide emails in a 2014 Freedom of Information Act request.

"The State Department delivered the material to Citizens United last week, and more messages are expected to come in the next month," according to ABC.

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Former President Bill Clinton attempted repeatedly to get approval from Hillary Clinton's State Department for lucrative speaking engagements in two of the most repressive countries in the world - North Korea and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, according to ABC News.
bill clinton, speech, congo, north korea, state department, hillary
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2015-06-28
Friday, 28 Aug 2015 11:06 AM
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