Watchdog: State Department Withholding Details of Bill Clinton’s North Korea Invitation

‘North Korea has inserted itself into the 2016 presidential race’

Bill Clinton, Kim Jong Il in 2009
Bill Clinton, Kim Jong Il in 2009
February 17, 2016

Conservative watchdog group Citizens United is calling on the State Department and the Clinton Foundation to turn over details about Bill Clinton’s invitation to a North Korea-connected event in 2012, amid Pyongyang’s latest escalation of its nuclear weapons program.

The North Korean request to Bill Clinton was included in a collection of State Department emails obtained by Citizens United through a public records request last year. The emails concern Bill Clinton’s paid foreign speaking engagements, which had to be approved by the State Department.

But the State Department has yet to release a May 2012 email attachment that contained details about the North Korea invitation, according to Citizens United. The group is calling on the State Department and the Clinton Foundation to turn over the document, in light of the Kim Jong-Un regime’s increasingly aggressive nuclear testing.

"North Korea is a rogue regime that is a threat to the security of the civilized world. Now, with its nuclear test and subsequent rocket launch, North Korea has inserted itself into the 2016 U.S. presidential race," said Citizens United president David N. Bossie in a statement to the Washington Free Beacon.

"The Clinton Foundation and/or the State Department should immediately release the details of President Bill Clinton’s 2012 ‘North Korea invitation’ that is referenced in the attached State Department email that was obtained by Citizens United through a FOIA lawsuit over the summer of 2015."

In a series of May 2012 emails subject-lined "North Korea invitation," Clinton Foundation aide Amitabh Desai pressed Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff Cheryl Mills to allow the Bill Clinton to participate in the event.

"Dear Cheryl, we’d welcome your feedback on the attached invitation—would [U.S. government] have any concerns?" wrote Desai.

Desai later followed up, writing "Is it safe to assume [U.S. Government] would have concerns about WJC accepting the attached invitation related to North Korea?"

When Mills tersely told him to "decline it," Desai pressed on, telling her that Hillary Clinton’s brother was lobbying Bill Clinton to attend.

"This came via Tony Rodham," wrote Desai. "So we would be grateful for any specific concerns that we could share, beyond just saying it would be concerning to the [U.S. Government]. Tony is seeing WJC in a few hours. Thanks and sorry to be a pain."

Mills told Desai to "let [Bill] know his wife knows and I am happy to call him secure when he is near a secure line."

Bill Clinton has come under fire for accepting paid speaking invitations from governments such as the United Arab Emirates, which has a history of human rights violations.

He was also offered a $650,000 speaking engagement before the dictator of the Democratic Republic of Congo, which the State Department also nixed, ABC News reported in August.

The North Korean regime is considered the worst abuser of human rights in the world. The government also has a long history of military aggression against its neighbors, and has recently been ramping up its testing of nuclear weapons.

"The Clintons are longtime supporters of transparency in government and releasing these records would be consistent with their rhetoric. The public has a right to know the details of what North Korea was offering President Clinton," said Bosse.

"Similarly, Hillary Clinton is running for president of the United States and it’s in the public interest to know the extent of her brother’s relationship with North Korea and/or North Korea interests," Bosse added. "How would this relationship impact Hillary Clinton’s decision making with respect to North Korea?"

The State Department did not respond to a request for comment about why it has not released the document.