Sometimes even the most serious encounters were leavened with moments of humor, Mitchell noted. 

She once got a rare opportunity to sit in on a meeting in Damascus between President Clinton and then-Syrian President Hafez al-Assad, on the condition that she stay silent. Mitchell remembers waiting for a pause in the conversation before jumping in with a question about terrorism, before immediately being pounced on by Syrian bodyguards.

“The president started laughing because he thought it was very funny that I was silenced in that instance,” she said.

She also recalled staying up all night with her producer in a hotel room in Cuba, waiting by the phone and fully dressed in professional attire, on the off chance that the island nation’s then-President Fidel Castro would agree to an interview.

“You don’t know you’re going to get it, so you wait and you wait, and then in the middle of the night, a call comes. Midnight, one in the morning, ‘Can you come to the presidential palace?'”

The interview with Mitchell was part of SiriusXM’s “Leading Ladies,” a series honoring female innovators. The show will premiere Aug. 23 on SiriusXM’s P.O.T.U.S. satellite channel 124 and through the SiriusXM Internet Radio App.