State Department officials under Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton moved quickly when aides to Bill Clinton asked them in March 2010 to approve plans for the former president to address clients of a multinational British bank, Barclays. Within four days, the department’s ethics office signed off on the request — as it did for hundreds of others from the former president during his wife’s four-year tenure leading the agency.
Its standard response, fired off in a short memo: “We have no objection.”
That decision remained unchanged even after the Justice Department announced just months later, in August 2010, that Barclays Bank agreed to pay nearly $300 million in penalties for violating financial sanctions against Iran, Cuba, Sudan, Libya and Burma. The long-running case had hardly been a secret: Barclays had openly acknowledged in its annual reports — as recently as the same month as Clinton’s 2010 request — that it was under investigation by the Justice Department and others for sanctions violations, and it cautioned that the impact on its profits “could be substantial.”