--A LOOK AT THE SPEECHES: ABC News has obtained State Department e-mails that shed light on Bill Clinton's lucrative speaking engagements and show he and the Clinton Foundation tried to get approval for invitations related to two of the most repressive countries in the world -- North Korea and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, ABC'S JONATHAN KARL reports. 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. 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. http://abcn.ws/1MSxmtm
--WHAT DID THE E MAILS SAY? One email sent in June 2012 to Clinton State Department chief of staff Cheryl Mills from Amitabh Desai, a foreign policy director at the Clinton Foundation, passed on an invitation for a speaking engagement in Brazzaville, Congo. The catch? The dictators of Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo would both be attending -- and required photos with Bill Clinton. The speaking fee? A whopping $650,000. The Harry Walker Agency, which worked with Clinton on coordinating his speeches, recommended declining the invite, noting the particularly grim human rights record of the Democratic Republic of Congo and its leader, Joseph Kabila. "Given President Kabila and others invovlement [sic] we anticipate you'll want us to quickly decline" the Harry Walker representative wrote. http://abcn.ws/1MSxmtm
--A LOOK INSIDE THE INBOX: Desai forwarded the e-mail to Mills and other State Department employees, including long-time Clinton aide Huma Abedin, asking for state's opinion on whether Bill Clinton could do the speech but give the money to the Clinton 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." A second email thread in May 2012 shows another potentially thorny event -- subject line: "North Korea invitation." "Is it safe to assume [the U.S. Government] would have concerns about WJC accepting the attached invitation related to North Korea?" Desai wrote in an e-mail to Mills and two other State Department officials...Mills two-word response? "Decline it." But the Clinton Foundation followed up three weeks later, saying the invite came via Hillary Clinton's brother Tony Rodham. "We would be grateful for any specific concerns that we could share," Desai wrote. "Tony is seeing WJC in a couple hours." Mills wrote back to tell Bill Clinton, "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." http://abcn.ws/1MSxmtm
--WHAT IS PRESIDENT CLINTON'S CAMP SAYING? "As a matter of course, all requests were run by the State Department. Ultimately, the President did not give these speeches," Angel Urena, press secretary in the Office of President Clinton, told ABC News. The Clinton spokesman contends Desai was not "pushing" for these speeches, but he was just seeking the facts.
--CLINTON CONFIDANT'S INBOX OPENED TOO: Newly released e-mails offer a glimpse into Hillary Clinton confidant and personal aide Huma Abedin, who is facing growing scrutiny for her "special government employee" status inside the U.S. State Department while Clinton was in her final year as Secretary of State. Abedin has worked for Clinton for years, including her days in the U.S. Senate through the 2008 campaign and into the Obama administration. But it was a period of several months in 2012 -- when she split time working for the State Department, Clinton Foundation, an outside consulting firm, Teneo, which has close ties to the Clintons and for Clinton herself --- that is now drawing a closer look by the State Department Inspector General and Clinton's Republican critics about potential conflicts of interest. Some have alleged that Abedin used her ties to Clinton to improperly exert influence for the benefit of her bosses. No evidence has been presented publicly, however and Abedin has not been charged with any crime or formally accused of violating government policy. ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ and BENJAMIN SIEGEL have more. http://abcn.ws/1Jn6FZ6
ANALYSIS--ABC's RICK KLEIN: It's a version of speed dating, except one party is already sort of engaged. And it wouldn't take Ashley Madison to find another just-maybe willing prospect outside the room. The Democratic National Committee is converging in Minneapolis just in time to take some private frustrations over Hillary Clinton's candidacy public. But as Clinton herself and her announced rivals zip through the room, making condensed versions of their pitches, all eyes of course remain on Vice President Joe Biden and a team that's actively drumming up interest in that third Biden run. The challenge for them is to be clear about the circumstances: disappointment and even anger at Camp Clinton is not necessarily the same as a groundswell for the vice president. Biden insiders think they've gotten President Obama's go-ahead this week, yet that's not an endorsement. It's also not a replacement for the grassroots eruption Biden would have to position himself to tap into if a late-starting candidacy will go anywhere. Clinton may well be vulnerable, and those in the room in Minneapolis may want her to face a more substantial challenge. That's not the same, though, as wanting to break up with Clinton in favor of Biden.
WALKER TALKS FOREIGN POLICY TODAY: Republican presidential candidate and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker will lay out his foreign policy agenda in a speech at the Citadel, a military college in the early voting state of South Carolina today, reports ABC's JORDYN PHELPS. Walker is making the case that the U.S. strategy in the Middle East needs to be expanded from its focus on defeating ISIS to also include a more aggressive stance against Iran, which he says is a Shiite form of Islamic terrorism. "Over the last seven years, we have seen far too much of this delusion and wishful thinking," Walker will say in his speech, according to advance excerpts released by his campaign. "To believe that a stable and lasting Middle East can be built by working with Iran, any more than by working with ISIS, isn't statesmanship. It's pure fantasy." Walker has long said that he would terminate a nuclear deal with Iran on day one as president and is also calling for "lifting the political restrictions" on U.S. military personnel in Iraq, which would allow them to take a more active combat role.
CRUZ AND TRUMP GET COZY: Sen. Ted Cruz and Donald Trump are taking their cozy relationship to a new level, ABC'S JESSICA HOPPER reports. The two will appear at an event together. Cruz's campaign said they invited Trump to participate in a rally against the Iran Deal that will take place Sep. 9. Trump broke the news of the joint event at a campaign stop in South Carolina yesterday, saying "We are talking to Ted Cruz, a good guy and friend of mine about doing something very big in Washington over the next two weeks." It's the latest friendly gesture between the two presidential candidates. They've publicly praised each other in the past and Cruz is one of the few GOP candidates to steer clear of bashing Donald Trump.
TO PLEDGE OR NOT TO PLEDGE: Trump on MSNBC this morning says he has "plenty of time" to make a decision if he will sign on to a pledge in some early primary states to not run as an independent candidate, according to ABC's JOHN SANTUCCI. It's impossible to forget the real estate mogul was the only candidate on the GOP debate stage a few weeks ago to refuse to take that pledge. Trump told the New York Times Thursday he doesn't "make commitments and break them" should he take the pledge. The deadline for Trump in South Carolina is September 30. http://nyti.ms/1KpNBxU
TODAY ON THE TRAIL with ABC's RYAN STRUYK: Top Democrats are gathering in Minneapolis for their summer meeting today, where they will hear from their presidential hopefuls. Frontrunner Hillary Clinton and Lincoln Chafee will join the attendees in the late morning, while Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley will address the members in the afternoon. Vice President Joe Biden, who will not be attending the convention today, did call DNC members about the Iran deal on Wednesday. GOP frontrunner Donald Trump is off the trail today. But establishment favorite Jeb Bush will stump with his most recent fan -- former Majority Leader Eric Cantor -- in the pivotal swing state of Virginia today. Meanwhile, second tier contenders Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Scott Walker are campaigning in South Carolina today. Carly Fiorina is in Iowa while Rand Paul continues his western tour in Wyoming.
AT THE WHITE HOUSE with ABC'S JORDYN PHELPS: Amid President Obama's ongoing lobbying effort to gain sufficient Congressional support to approve the Iran nuclear deal, the president will today make his pitch directly to the American Jewish community in a live webcast organized by two major Jewish organizations. Earlier this month Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also held a webcast with the Jewish American community and made the case against the deal, arguing that it will only help to pave the way for Iran to obtain a bomb.
THIS WEEK ON 'THIS WEEK': Republican presidential candidate Gov. Bobby Jindal and Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders come to "This Week" Sunday. Plus, Sen. Amy Klobuchar discusses her new book "The Senator Next Door." Then, the Powerhouse Roundtable debates the week in politics with ABC News' Cokie Roberts, Associated Press Chief White House correspondent Julie Pace, ABC News contributor and ESPN senior writer LZ Granderson and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
WHAT WE'RE READING
"Clinton Quietly Trying to Discourage Biden from a 2016 Bid," by the Associated Press' Ken Thomas and Lisa Lerer. In ways both subtle and blunt, Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign is sending a message to Vice President Joe Biden about his potential presidential campaign: This won't be easy. As Biden ponders a challenge to Clinton for the Democratic nomination, she has rolled out a string of high-profile endorsements in the early-voting contests of Iowa and South Carolina and scheduled an onslaught of fundraisers across the country in the effort to throw cold water on a possible Biden bid. Donors who have publicly expressed support for a Biden run have been contacted by the Clinton team, according to donors and Democratic strategists who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the private conversations. Even Clinton herself has made a few calls, they said, to express her disappointment. While Clinton and her team speak warmly of Biden in public, they have taken steps to show their dominance over the party's establishment and President Barack Obama's political infrastructure in hopes of quietly discouraging the vice president from entering the race. http://abcn.ws/1PWMEgM
THE BUZZ with ABC's VERONICA STRACQUALURSI
HILLARY CLINTON COMPARES GOP STANCE ON WOMEN'S HEALTH TO TERRORISTS' VIEWS. Hillary Clinton compared her Republican rivals' views on women's health issues to those of "terrorist groups" in a Cleveland speech Thursday. She named Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich calling their conservative views on reproductive rights "dead wrong for 21st America," pledging her campaign is "going forward, we are not going back." "Extreme views about women, we expect them from some of the terrorist groups, we expect that from people who don't want to live in the modern world, but it's a little hard to take coming from Republicans who want to be the president of the United States, yet they espouse out-of-date and out-of-touch policies," Clinton said. Clinton specifically named Rubio's position to make all abortions illegal even in case of rape and incest and Bush's position--along with many of his GOP opponents--to defund Planned Parenthood, according to ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE. http://abcn.ws/1MQNEmy
NEW DONALD TRUMP CAMPAIGN CO-CHAIRMAN BLASTED CANDIDATE WHILE WORKING FOR RICK PERRY, EMAILS SHOW. Donald Trump's new national co-chairman Sam Clovis, who recently defected from Rick Perry's campaign, sent emails as recently as two months ago questioning Trump's Christian faith and condemning his comments about John McCain, according to emails obtained by ABC News. Sam Clovis, while serving as Perry's Iowa chairman, wrote in an email titled "Faith and Our Candidates" that one candidate's comments "reveal no foundation in Christ, which is a big deal." "Of all the potential candidates who spoke, one of them left me with questions about his moral center and his foundational beliefs," Clovis wrote. The candidate that Clovis was referring to was Trump, according to the Des Moines Register. In an interview with ABC News, Clovis said he and Trump resolved the issues expressed in the emails before signing on with his campaign, ABC's ALANA ABRAMSON and ARLETTE SAENZ report. "There's no better way to resolve it than to have a discussion," he said. "The answers that Mr. Trump gave me were more than satisfactory and I wouldn't be working for him if they weren't." http://abcn.ws/1WV3YYf
HOW DONALD TRUMP, HILLARY CLINTON AND THEIR 2016 RIVALS ARE RESPONDING TO THE VIRGINIA SHOOTING. The 2016 field of presidential candidates highlighted their various positions on gun control Thursday while offering prayers and support in the wake of a shooting in Virginia that took the lives of two television journalists. Other prominent shootings have prompted strong reactions from both sides -- calls for stronger gun control from the left and calls to respect the Second Amendment from the right. When Republican frontrunner Donald Trump was asked Thursday morning on CNN whether he would do something different with gun policy, he said he would not, according to ABC's RYAN STRUYK. "I don't think I would because this is really a sick person. This isn't a gun problem. This is a mental problem," he said. "That's what they should be focusing on instead of guns -- they should be talking about mental health because there's so many things that can be done." On the Democratic side, frontrunner Hillary Clinton vowed to continue her support for gun control after the tragic shooting. http://abcn.ws/1NXQept
POLL: 'LIAR' MOST FREQUENTLY ASSOCIATED WORD WITH HILLARY CLINTON. Crook," "weak," "joke" are just a few of the words that voters said when Quinnipiac University asked them the first word that pops into their heads when they think of Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump and Jeb Bush. Quinnipiac asked 1,563 voters and reported only the words that were said at least five times, ABC's VERONICA STRACQUALURSI notes. The word "liar" was mentioned 178 times in association with Hillary Clinton. "Arrogant" was said 58 times for Trump -- who's still leading the GOP pack with 28 percent support. Ironically, "Bush" is the top word that 136 people related to the former Florida governor. A few profanities were mentioned for Clinton and Trump. "Hair" was also mentioned eight times for Trump. Bush was associated with the word "boring" 10 times. http://abcn.ws/1fIQKvI
DONALD TRUMP ASKS A WOMAN TO PERFORM 'INSPECTION' TO SEE IF HE HAS TOUPEE. Donald Trump is ready to settle one issue once and for all: If he wears a rug. "I don't wear a toupee," Trump told a laughing crowd at an event in Greenville, South Carolina. "It's my hair. I swear." He then decided that the situation required an "inspection" -- so he called a woman from the crowd onto the stage to tug at his hair, ABC's RYAN STRUYK writes. "Come here! We're gonna settle this," he said. "Just come on up here. You have to do an inspection here. This is getting crazy." "Yes, I believe it is," the woman told the crowd when asked if the hair was real. http://abcn.ws/1EZV54h
PRESIDENT OBAMA MARKS DECADE OF KATRINA RECOVERY WITH NEW ORLEANS VISIT. President Obama marked a decade of recovery after Hurricane Katrina, touring New Orleans yesterday not only to get a first-hand look at the progress made after the storm destroyed the city, but also to encourage its residents to achieve "real change." "If Katrina was initially an example of what happens when government fails, the recovery has been an example of what's possible when government works together," Obama said during remarks at a community center in New Orleans Thursday afternoon. The trip is Obama's sixth visit to New Orleans, and his ninth trip to Louisiana as President in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, ABC's JOHN PARKINSON notes. http://abcn.ws/1VfqMQH
'AMAZING GRACE': A LOOK INSIDE THE MUSICAL. It's a song known to many -- and a story known to few. "Amazing Grace" has been sung by pop artists, performed by public figures -- even presidents. Now, it has a Broadway debut in the musical "Amazing Grace," which chronicles the life of John Newton, writer of that beloved hymn, ABC's FREDA KAHEN-KASHI writes. "One of the most iconic songs in the Western world was the result of this life, this transformed life," creator Christopher Smith told ABC News. Smith, a former police officer, wrote the music and book for the musical after finding Newton's autobiography on a library visit in 1997. He's since worked tirelessly to bring the story of this slave-trader turned abolitionist to life. http://abcn.ws/1WUXuZm
@rickklein how far was Bill Clinton willing to go for speaking fees? North Korea & Congo. http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/bill-clinton-sought-state-department-paid-speeches-related/story?id=33369277 ... @jonkarl @GMA
@joshrogin Congressional Fight on Iran Deal Is All But Over http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-08-28/congressional-fight-on-iran-deal-is-all-but-over ... by @EliLake & me @BV