July 13th, 2009
07:25 PM ET
5 years ago

Clinton: Vetting process for administration jobs 'a nightmare'

Secretary of State Clinton spoke out Monday about the Obama administration's rigorous vetting process.
Secretary of State Clinton spoke out Monday about the Obama administration's rigorous vetting process.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton showed a rare flash of frustration Monday - calling the vetting process for Obama administration nominees "ridiculous" and "a nightmare."

At a question-and-answer session with staff from the U.S. Agency for International Development, a woman asked her when the agency would be getting a new administrator and "why it's taking so long."

"Let me say it's not for lack of trying," Clinton replied. "The process - the clearance and vetting process - is a nightmare," she told the staff. "It takes far longer than any of us would want to see. It is frustrating beyond words."

The secretary said she "pushed very hard last week, when I knew I was coming here, to get permission from the White House to be able to tell you that help is on the way and somebody will be nominated shortly." But, she said, "the message came back, 'We're not ready.'"

"Anyone who has gone through it or looked at this process will tell you that every administration it gets worse," she added.

"Some very good people just didn't want to be vetted," she explained. "You have to hire lawyers, you have to hire accountants. I mean, it is ridiculous!"

Drawing laughs from the crowd, Clinton said, "And then here's one of the questions you get asked: First of all, you have to remember everywhere you've lived since you were 18. And, beyond a certain age you can't even remember when you were 18!"

One of her "all-time favorite questions," she said, is, "Please tell us every foreign national you know."

"I mean, some people who are of different ancestry, they're a hyphenated American and they have family still living in other countries, finally said it's ridiculous. I mean, I have lots of cousins I've never met. You're going to ask me to put their names down so they can all be interviewed? That's ridiculous!

"You're sensing my frustration!" Clinton sighed.


Filed under: Extra • Hillary Clinton • Obama administration • Popular Posts
soundoff (300 Responses)
  1. FL

    It's called politics as usual. Both sides drag each other through the mud to try to discredit each other. Whoever can come out the other side without too much of the mud stuck on them, makes it, the rest don't. And sadly several of Obama's picks that did make it through still had tax problems. So, even their ridiculously rigid process misses things.

    Politics has become cruel and unusual punishment and the real honest people in the world don't want to serve the public anymore as a result. Thus we get all the slimy, arrogant politicians we currently have. By the time these people get elected to office they have sold their souls. It is a bipartisan issue to be sure.

    July 13, 2009 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  2. dodialfayed

    Seth in Jacksonville, FL your comment is right on point.

    July 13, 2009 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  3. Eric

    The Headline of this article couldn't be more taken out of context. I didn't know I was reading FoxNews.

    July 13, 2009 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  4. TexasAnnie *-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

    CNN must be vying with the National Enquirer for misleading headlines.
    The front pages of CNN says:
    "Ticker: Obama process 'ridiculous,' Clinton says"
    And yet the Ticker article itself is entitled:
    "Vetting process for administration jobs 'a nightmare'"
    So, CNN, are you perhaps trying to stir the pot a little here??????????

    July 13, 2009 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  5. DefiantOne

    Hilldawg is right, as usual, but in Obama's defense the GOP is looking to pounce on any nominee that gives them an opening.

    He should use the Clinton style "screw em" approach. His opponents will bray and moan but they'll forget about it and move on to the next show. It is ridiculous that seven months into his tenure important jobs at the heads of agencies are not filled.

    July 13, 2009 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  6. Mitch

    Look at how the right wing nutjobs went ape over income tax issues on previous candidates. So they want to be careful...most people have no problem with that. It's not big government as Red thinks he knows...it's called responsible government...something the GOP is very unfamiliar with.

    July 13, 2009 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  7. John

    Two Words: Sarah Palin. Vett away or else.....

    July 13, 2009 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  8. rocky'smom

    Did everyone read the Washington Times article about how the Obama Administration is being overworked? But I guess not working to get Hillary's State Dept ready – so many parties and travel plans for the first family to travel the world. Oh how wonderful Obama Camp is for the children. Plus, the treasury dept is still a skeleton crew also. The only thing over stocked are the CZARS, that don't have to be vetted.

    July 13, 2009 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  9. makesUwonder

    Appears that Mrs. Clinton is now beginning to figure out Obama.......""ridiculous".....something many of us have known for a very long time.

    July 13, 2009 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  10. peter

    politics at it best folks

    Obama/Biden 2012

    July 13, 2009 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  11. Tired of Obama's lies in SC

    GET started on impeaching him and biden and you can take over. you would have made a better president anywar and i am a republican.

    July 13, 2009 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  12. RobertD

    Actually, Obama didn't put the Clintons through anything. She was vetted like everyone else.

    Yeah, vetting is a drag, but imagine the outcries of "malfeasance" (or worse) if Obama's administration *didn't* properly vet nominees for jobs. They could easily get someone whose past would come back to bite them...someone who had maybe broken the law...had violated ethics laws...hadn't paid their taxes...had all kinds of skeletons in their closet.

    Someone like, oh, I don't know–Sarah Palin.

    July 13, 2009 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  13. peter

    politics at it best folks Clinton need to know who her boss first before acting on her own and try to put Obama on the hot sit while Obama trying to pass the healthcare and the energy bill.

    Obama/Biden 2012

    July 13, 2009 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  14. Frank

    Well, there have to be some loop-holes; Tim Geithner got in!

    July 13, 2009 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  15. rush

    yeah...complain now but if someone slips through the vetting process all these republican thugs like cantor and bohener and limbaugh will jump all over it. All Republicans can do is be hypocrites.

    July 13, 2009 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  16. Ron

    After getting burned on Daschle and a few other 'tax-evader' nominees, which the GOP won't let Obama forget, the extra-rigorous vetting process is at least politically understandable .

    July 13, 2009 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  17. Bob the Observer

    Vetting scares away the really good ones and leaves you with Clinton types.

    July 13, 2009 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  18. Natasha in Dallas, TX

    Agree with Seth. This president is more heavily scrutinized than any in recent history, and he hasn't even been in office for 6 months. His administration should be careful. With all of the issues they had when he first tried to assign his cabinet, it is understandable that the process takes longer now.

    Unlike GDub..he could name whomever he wanted (remember FEMA/Katrina), and no one said a word.

    Just my 2 cents.

    July 13, 2009 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  19. chido williams

    That is proper administration-way to go. Patience patience please.

    July 13, 2009 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  20. wag

    Yes, Seth, from Jacksonville, you are right, its one of those deals,
    between a rock and a hard place. Who knows what the right process should be?

    July 13, 2009 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  21. John Graham

    Just run them through the "Wipeout" obstacle course; Anyone who survives the balls, the mud, the punching board, the vomit spin and the balance boards is vetted, and they have their answer at the end of the day...

    July 13, 2009 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  22. Don

    Agreed Seth, people are always looking to moan and complain about something. Last thing the Obama administration wants is a Sarah Palin type of vetting process where you run through the process and find out the perspective nominee knows diddlee about the job

    July 13, 2009 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  23. justsane

    and whose fault is this? ours. the media's. politician's. pundit's. everyone that bought into the idea that we need to know every single possible thing about every single person who wants to run for office, or obtain a high-level government position.

    it is ludicrous. the only things we NEED to know have to do with job history, and felony convictions. after that, it is NONE of our business! no wonder there are so many flaming morons out there in our government–if we are only willing to accept people that either have opinions identical to ours, or those that have no verifiable positions at all, we dissuade almost all thoughtful and intelligent men and women from going into public service.

    July 13, 2009 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  24. Shawn

    Must not look too closely at tax records in this extensive "vetting process"...

    July 13, 2009 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  25. Ana

    Yet again another misleading CNN headline.

    July 13, 2009 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
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