July 17th, 2009
02:01 PM ET
5 years ago

Clinton again rips into vetting process

 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday tore into the Obama administration's 'vetting' process
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday tore into the Obama administration's 'vetting' process

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Behind the scenes they're tearing out their hair.

Nominees for top positions in the Obama administration say they are put on seemingly endless hold for months during the "vetting" process, forced to provide minute details of their financial, personal and professional lives going back years. Many have to hire lawyers and accountants – paid for with their own money – to compile the information. Some nominees have simply given up in frustration.

Now, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says it's affecting U.S. diplomatic relations.

"It's hard to explain in my position to our foreign counterparts that we don't have positions filled that would be the natural interlocutors or their counterparts in other countries," she said Thursday.

It's the third time this week the secretary has lambasted the process. Monday, she called it "frustrating beyond words," telling staff at the U.S. Agency for International Development who still don't have a new administrator, the process is a "nightmare."

Wednesday, in a major foreign policy speech at the Council on Foreign Relations, Clinton was at it again: "I mean, we are trying to get our political leaders in place to work with our very dedicated Foreign Service and Civil Service employees, but we're still not there yet. And I had no idea when I was in the Senate asking a million questions of every nominee – how really shortsighted that was."

Thursday, at a press availability, the Secretary told CNN, "Most (foreign) governments, after they are elected, are up and going in a relatively short period of time. We are now six months into our new administration and it's not only here but across the government where they don't have critical positions filled. I think it's pretty obvious that the process has gotten much more complicated, cumbersome and lengthy and that is something that I hear from everyone. And it is a matter that we're going to have to address."

Clinton added that it's not just the Obama administration and it's not happening just at the State Department or USAID. The situation has been getting worse with every administration. But some political observers say President Obama's new ethics rules make it even more challenging to get through the process.

In spite of the frustration, at the USAID town hall Clinton managed to find some ironic humor in the predicament: "… 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!"


Filed under: Hillary Clinton
soundoff (299 Responses)
  1. GI Joe

    How many days are you going to run this? CNN tries to make it seem like Clinton is whining about rules on a minute to minute basis.

    More reliable news sources have moved on and are giving us updated news on C-Street, Health Care, Economy, etc.

    Shame Shame Shame on CNN – e-gossip at it's worst.

    July 17, 2009 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  2. Doug, New Jersey

    Wow, even Hillary is upset with all the libbie BARAKACY in DC.

    Her husband was the last at least somewhat respectable Democrat, unlike every other Democrat in power these days, he actually wasn't looking to harm America's best and take away people's rights, freedoms, and hard earned wealth.

    July 17, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  3. l smith

    too darn bad..the republicans had to endure the same. get over it. in everything the democrats do, they act as if in crisis mode and get everyone excited thinking the sky is falling, just to get their agenda pushed through..too darn bad..

    July 17, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  4. Stuffit

    The administration is continually passing "job creation bills" but can't even fully staff the government! I'm sure if they fill these positions, they can tout that the "stimulus bill is working, we added 6 jobs at the State Department!"

    Judging from previous appointments in the administration, the vetting process can't be too tough, c'mon, how many guys that can't even do their taxes get to be the head of the IRS?

    July 17, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  5. Fair is Fair

    And yet, the best they come up with is a bunch of tax cheats. Good job!

    July 17, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  6. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    What an old hag.... and not long for the job.

    July 17, 2009 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  7. Larry

    Didn't Hillary just rant about this earlier in the week?

    Is this how she's planning on conducting herself in the State Department? Crying in the media instead of following diplomatic guidelines.

    She should be discussing this with her boss, President Obama.

    July 17, 2009 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  8. Sam I Am

    I'm not sure why HIllary is so upset about this. She has been in politics in one form or another for decades. This vetting process is nothing new.
    The vetting processes get very detail-oriented if there is any hint of things that might cause the country embarrassment. Hillary and Bill have been involved in a significant number of questionable situations, so she should expect no less than to have her background VERY carefully examined. Suck it up, Hillary. You're a big girl.

    July 17, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  9. truthsayer

    CNN trying to create conflict where there is none

    July 17, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  10. R in Maine

    Hillary –
    You are completely correct. I am of an age where retirement is possible, and I would be pleased to serve our government at rather low cost. But I am not going to expose myself or my family to this Republican scum who has no sense of justice or appropriate questioning. I have supported you through the whole campaign, and would like to help. But they are not good people. Let me know if there is anything you need.

    July 17, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  11. Mark

    And yet they still can't manage to nominate anyone who hasn't cheated on their taxes! Ha, Ha, Ha... what a joke this administration is.

    July 17, 2009 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  12. Kelby In Houston, TX

    Maybe the administration should allow The State Dept. to do their own HR. (Human Resources) That way they will have more control over the vetting process while maintaining high ethics standards

    July 17, 2009 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  13. john

    When the vetting isn't good enough they complain. Now that WH is getting tougher when filling positions in the government Clinton has follow protocol.

    July 17, 2009 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  14. Predicta

    Looks like Hilary is getting ready for another run at the presidency in 2012, as Obama's approval ratings continue to tank.
    Palin vs. Hillary in 2012 is looking like a real possibility.

    July 17, 2009 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  15. dominican mama 4 Obama

    The situation has been getting worse with every administration. But some political observers say President Obama's new ethics rules make it even more challenging to get through the process.

    I know it's gotta be frustrating Hillary; however, let's face facts: it is Pres. Obama, not Bush, Reagan, Clinton. It is President Obama in the White House. You're an intelligent woman Hillary, you know what's up. This man has to have his people checked, and triple checked. And even then something goes awry and the Republiklans are all over it. Sorry for the inconvenience Hillary, I'm sure it frustrates Obama too, but you know, it is what it is......

    July 17, 2009 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  16. nomoreperry

    I believe they SHOULD have to go through an extreme vetting process. For far too many years, candidates were given a walk to due political affiliations, personal favors, MONEY!.. My hats off to those that are sticking to the process, I believe it will allow for a better, less corrupt bunch of personnel in those positions.

    July 17, 2009 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  17. Patty

    Why does CNN keep posting this? Every one will be thoroughly vetted before hire. So What?

    July 17, 2009 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  18. Adam

    Maybe since a lot of his early appointments crashed and burned because they didn't pay taxes and a few other reasons, he actually has to show some caution. The mood toward Obama is souring big time. Maybe he'd be better off if everything he said during the campaign wasn't a total lie.

    July 17, 2009 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  19. Too True For You

    Thanks, republicans, for perfecting attack politics to the point that this is what American citizens have to ensure there's nothing to sick your pit bull "smearcasters" on.

    Every party engages in questionable tactics, but you folks have taken it to a new level starting with the reprobate tactics of Lee Attwater, and it reached its duplicitous nadir with Rove and his attack puppy, Jim Wilkinson.

    Thanks again, guys, for yet another ugly republican legacy that is costing us tons of money and global prestige.

    July 17, 2009 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  20. chuckd

    Has she talked to the President? No need to whine to the media. I think the vetting process should be hard. President Obama tried to nominated a few staffers that owed back taxes. Sounds like he is being careful this time around.

    CBH

    July 17, 2009 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  21. Duck Fallas

    We can't have any wide stanced, staff boinkin', Argentina trippin' folks at the state department. We don't want to give the world the right idea.

    Palin-Bachmann 2012

    July 17, 2009 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  22. the idiot

    If they were vetted realistically, no one would qualify for the Obama administration. They need to get drug tests. Check out what is happening in Chicago and then realize how many Chicagoans are in the administration and realize also that dear leader himself was a "community organizer" there before his annointment by George Soros, ACORN and the unions. What did he organize death squads.

    July 17, 2009 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  23. Patty

    And if the McCain crowd had fully vetted Palin the outcome of the election may have been different.

    July 17, 2009 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  24. Itai

    "But some political observers say President Obama's new ethics rules make it even more challenging to get through the process."

    so dont care about ethics.. or what?
    if they cant manage to think about ethics they should go back to school

    obama is doing a great job... things are geting more complexe in this world ... who ever cant handle it should give the place to one who trys to manage it

    what barbarians are thoese who cry about ethics?
    did they ever hear about civilisation or do they life in a nuclear save bunker?

    July 17, 2009 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  25. Jeff in Virginia

    Lets see if i've got this straight..

    Hillary's debt is finally paid off, so now she's undermining her boss.

    Class act, that Hillary Clinton.

    July 17, 2009 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
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