Hillary Rodham Clinton looks at her husband, Bill Clinton, after she delivers a formal campaign kickoff speech in June in New York. In 2012, the State Department received emails seeking approval for Bill Clinton's speaking engagements, including invitations from North Korea and the Democratic Republic of Congo. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
WASHINGTON, Aug. 31 (UPI) -- Former President Bill Clinton sought State Department consent to accept speech invitations from North Korea and the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to government emails recently made public after a conservative group sued the State Department.
The emails dating to 2012, sent during Hillary Clinton's term as secretary of state, were from the Clinton Foundation to the State Department chief of staff, ABC News reported.
The foundation's foreign policy director, Amitabh Desai, had forwarded an invitation to the former U.S. president for a speaking engagement in Brazzaville, the capital of the Republic of Congo. An independent agency that worked with Bill Clinton recommended declining the offer that included a speaking fee of $650,000 and an obligation to pose for photos with accused human rights violators.
Clinton earned more than $48 million delivering 215 speeches globally, but the emails were part of a measure to avoid conflicts of interest between the former president and his wife's duties as the No.1 U.S. diplomat, ABC reported.
Another email from May 2012 with the subject line "North Korea invitation" indicated Bill Clinton was considering an opportunity to speak in North Korea. State Department Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills told the Clinton Foundation to "decline it," but the foundation contact followed up three weeks afterward to say the invitation came from Hillary Clinton's brother, Tony Rodham.
During the Democratic National Committee meeting in Minneapolis on Friday, Hillary Clinton said she did receive "some unusual requests" but said, "They all went through the process," Fox News reported.
Both invitations were declined, according to Hillary Clinton, who also said her husband played a key role in rescuing American reporters detained in North Korea.
"You might not recall, but [President Barack] Obama sent Bill to North Korea to rescue journalists who were captured," Hillary Clinton said. "Every offer we made was rebuffed, and we offered many people to go and finally North Koreans said if Bill comes, we will give him two journalists."