July 17th, 2009
02:01 PM ET
9 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. Alan

    Dissention among the ranks . . . I love it!

    July 17, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  2. CNN gets slammed for slamming

    Dear CNN Political Ticker: please stop using the verb "slam," or at least try to limit the use to once a week. You are rarely using it appropriately and are using the verb entirely too often. How about a bit of accuracy in the story titles, or at least a bit of creativity?

    July 17, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  3. suzyku

    She lost!

    July 17, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  4. Joe Publicini

    The Democrats are setting themselves up for failure. Relief for the Americans (if they wise up) will be from the Republicans and this will start in 2010 and then 2012.

    July 17, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  5. Sherry

    And your point is? . . . she cannot disagree with the President at all - come on people - no true relationships are built on yes, yes, yes!

    And to those who say he has not shown his birth certificate - starting today, please start posting your birth certificates, your tax returns, and any other pertinent information about you. Get a life!

    July 17, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  6. zach

    I love you Hillary!! Hillary in 2012!!

    July 17, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  7. Lysh

    As capable as Obama is, the logical reason for this not being done yet is that he simply hasn't made it a priority. Will all that this administration's faced with, it's not a total surprise they haven't been able to focus on this.

    By coming to the media with this, Clinton's forcing the issue. We'll probably see the vetting process take a higher priority in the near future.

    July 17, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  8. Sean

    I blame both parties for treating every confirmation hearing as if it's a witch-hunt, or an opportunity to destroy someone rather than an interview meant to determine if someone's qualified to do a job. It has forced administrations to undergo these complicated, exhausting vetting processes just so they can try to avoid having their nominee's personal lives and reputations torn to shreds. These partisan, politically motivated hit-jobs are making it less and less likely that the most talented people will ever seek these positions in the first place, and I'm disgusted with it.

    July 17, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  9. Denise in MD

    I find it incredibly ironic that Secy. Clinton is complaining about this vetting process when during her failed Presidential bid she criticized Obama's lack of vetting and touted her own. Not that I think she has no right to be frustrated... I'm just saying it's ironic.

    July 17, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  10. Tony

    The Republicans had their way for the last eight years. I wish they would give the Obama administration some slack. Did we have any abortions while Bush was in office? Abortions are like drugs and alcohol which we can not stop so why make it such a big issue.

    As for Judge Sotomayor, I don't see where she offended the white man other than she was merely stating that being raised in the poor side of town would give her a better judgment as to why the poor are more likely to be accused. But by drilling a lady with an agonizing foot should teach her that she better judge to the far right or else.

    July 17, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  11. Harry Katz

    This is what is necessary in order to avoid embarrassing situations. Don't you think the Republicans would be hiring their own lawyers and accountants to investigate Democrat nominees and office holders to try to come up with embarrassing background examples?

    July 17, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  12. bckm, Los Angeles

    Hehe...you guys crack me up...each one of you (well, ALMOST each one of you) knows THE TRUTH and Obama/Hillary doesn't. Especially the hyperbolic "Obama is ruining the country!" crowd. You guys make me laugh...

    Frankly, I think it's good that Hillary disagrees with Obama on occasion.

    July 17, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  13. ldk

    There is simply too much controversy surrounding obama's birth. He needs to show us the real long form version as well as other critical records. He works for us – we have a right to know.

    July 17, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  14. Zeb

    July 17th, 2009 12:22 pm ET

    Cee said:Well Hillary, since you got stuck on the back burner, I guess the "Administration" thinks it can shoe in all it's own "cronies" qualified or not. After all, isn't DIVERSITY the name of the game? We are now DUMMYING DOWN AMERICA. Instead of being a country of qualified, Intelligent, compasionate and caring people we will now be "diverse" if nothing else. These "NEW" people will take the $$ they can get and become known for being part of the process of making America the mess it currently is. Who rayyyyyyyyyyyyy for them. I hope you don't get burned in the process. Keeping you OUT of the picture might be to your advantage.

    Cee's right. I guess no minorities qualified for the top positions so Obama has thrown out the qualifications instead of hiring any white people. Remind you of any firefighters? Might sound a bit harsh, except that it's SO blatant!

    July 17, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  15. Dwayne

    Let's see...the current administration could scrap the vetting process and then end up having to explain and apologize to the public as to why and how they ended up with someone unqualified or whos behavior has been, or will be, totally unethical and unacceptable.

    Or, we could continue the vetting process for the best qualified individuals and explain our "foreign counterparts" that's how we roll. At least, we wouldn't be giving the republicans a stick to beat us with.

    Get Over It!

    July 17, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  16. shirley

    would be nice if hillary could fill his shoes ,while he's traveling the world ,this country would not be in such shambles,most of all the housing sector should be humming ,nothing seems to be really getting better not jobs ,not foreclosures,and banks and credit cards are big joke .si se puedo!!!NO, I DONT THINK SO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    July 17, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  17. Sporticus

    @"Obama supporter"

    HA! "above reproach"? "no corruption"?

    All we need to do is look at our Tax-evading Treas-Sec, Geitner to see that is a load of bunk. Then just look at the other tax-evading people Obama has hired.

    Above reproach my foot!

    July 17, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  18. JLS

    Who really cares what Hillary has to say??? If people paid their taxes, this wouldn't be a problem. Oh wait, I meant the little people, not those who think they don't need/ have to.

    July 17, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  19. Jim

    Anyone else get the feeling that she may not be long for the position? I figured she would step down in '10, but lately it looks like she is looking for an exit strategy. With all the past political acrimony, I wouldn't be surprised if she has her eyes on a bigger prize.

    July 17, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  20. Shane

    Hahaha....why not get waivers for these people to fill the positions? That is what King Obama does, right?

    July 17, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  21. stoney42

    HILLARY – 2012 !!!!!

    July 17, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  22. Seth

    Hey, hey they are called "czar" under this administration, maybe that is why they are not getting any response, who in AMERICA wants to be associated with a word like that.

    July 17, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  23. Kafka

    I find it rather interesting that CNN's initial header or lead-in to the actual story makes it appear as if Mrs. Clinton is attacking a process sponsored or managed by President Obama.

    Do the journalists and writers at CNN have nothing better to do than to 'spin' a story to look as if there are problems between the President and his Sec State?

    July 17, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  24. JP

    When you have a whole bunch of tax cheats, it takes time to find the lesser cheat

    July 17, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  25. Sally

    Hillary -

    I love you. Bu this time I didn't understand the purpose that you kept bringing it to the public. Let it go and move forward!!! This may not be good for public to view the relationship between you and the White House.

    How is your arm? Take care of yourself and keep up the good work!

    July 17, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
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