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. judy

    As I read the comments on any of these articles I am amazed that there are people who insist on blaming Bush or Republicans for anything that goes wrong. Get over it Dems. Obama has done more damage to our country since he has been in office than Bush did in 8 years. Get real people.

    July 17, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  2. Abby

    I completely agree with you Sean! The people getting vetted are already high level people who have had extensive background checks throughout their careers. Turning off the most talented and most qualified people by dragging out this process only hurts our country.

    July 17, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  3. Becky

    Someone please fast forward us to 2012 so the freakin circus can be over!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    July 17, 2009 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  4. alex phillips

    Hillary shut up!!!!, If he didn't have a process then we would end up with offiicals that had shady backgrounds, messed of business dealings and scandals, please quit if you don't like it, knew you would be trouble.

    July 17, 2009 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  5. All American family

    The GOP has been very successful in harassing qualified applicants in the selection of Obama's cabinet. They want to make sure that they delay any attempt as much as possible to complete the cabinet. This is because they know the sooner he fills his cabinet, the sooner he can get things done.

    So, the president has to make sure no stone is unturned in the vetting process so that the appointment can be made without obstruction from the GOP.

    man, I've never seen so much GOP hatred for a president, not even for Bill Clinton. I guess this black president thing really has folks up in knots.

    July 17, 2009 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  6. Cnn please post my comments! 1 love!

    Yeah the Republicans can whine and complain all they want! If the Republicans werent so unreasonably critical of Obamas picks for position he would have completely filled his cabinet by now! Americans know the reason this Admin is under going rigorous screening of applicants is because some of the right wing wackos are waiting to criticize pretty much anything Obama does! Intolerant haters!

    July 17, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  7. European-American

    I wonder, if there were less tax cheats in Washington, would the vetting process be a little easier?

    July 17, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  8. StL Melz

    I have two points on this topic:

    1. The "witch hunts" don't have to be so public. The process can and, in my opinion, should be done in private. To me it's counter-productive to hold public hearings until after a candidate has gone through an extensive process in which all the other issues are gone through with a fine-toothed comb on paper.

    2. Our politics have deparately needed a greater ethics standard for a very long time. I'm extremely glad and relieved it's finally beginning to be set in place.

    In summary, I think it would be more effective to have a candidate complete the vetting process "on paper" first. IF they are successful in completing that phase of the process, they shouldn't have any problems with a public hearing.

    July 17, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  9. Shane

    Corey-You are a moron! the vetting process has nothing to do with REPUBLICANS! Do some research before you speak you moron! The vetting process is due to the law OBAMA passed in making standards tougher! You stupid jacka$$! That is why Obama has needed a waiver for most of his picks! what a jacka$$!

    July 17, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  10. Socialist States of America

    For those of you who think BO has verified he is a natural born citizen, think again. Google the name Stefan Frederick Cook – he is in the Army and filed a lawsuit challenging his deployement orders since our so called president had not proved his status – the soldier would not be covered under the Geneva Convention protections if captured (among other reasons). I believe in about 24 hours the soldiers orders to deploy were REVOKED! The pentegon then called his employer and ordered him FIRED! Now, even LIBERAL talk show hosts (Lou Dobbs, Lynn Samuels) are questioning his place of birth.
    QUIT BEING SHEEP!!! INVESTIGATE IT FOR YOURSELF! IT IS NOT HARD TO DO!!!
    Now for the vetting process – why doesn't he just make more CZAR's? Shadow government getting too big? How much money is being wasted there? MILLIONS!
    God help us all – because when the US goes bankrupt, it will be all of us – not just independents (like me) or republicans. Wake up people.

    July 17, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  11. Josh Maloney

    Way to go, Hillary !! I agree. Thank you for speaking up about this vetting process that takes far too long. We are in desperate times and we need all the help we can get. Empty positions means no work is getting completed. Hire me. I'll get to work. I'm a recent Business School graduate and would LOVE the opportunity to use my skills in the Federal Government. I have applied to four Federal positions and have not heard anything. I'm unemployed and ready to work.

    July 17, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  12. schmeckel

    So she is mad at Obama because he does not want any more crooks in the white house. I see. Boy am I glad she lost to Obama.

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

    With all the problems this country has, this is not one!!!! Quit trying to make a mountain out of a molehill. All this is is an "opinion" not a "slam" and not a "rip". How about some real news?

    July 17, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  14. Independent Josh

    He should fire her.

    July 17, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  15. Alesia

    Has anyone ever thought if we were an ethical people, we wouldn't have to go through all of this for everyone?? Why is it that no one knows people haven't paid their taxes or have hired illegal aliens until they reach appointment for an executive level position? Soemtimes we (USA) are such a sad joke on ourselves.

    July 17, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  16. Captain Kangaroo

    Nia AZ – you need to learn english. Your post sounds so ignorant.

    July 17, 2009 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  17. Steve C - Atlanta, GA

    So is she implying that if she were the President or the person making the decisions, she would loosen the controls and potentially let someone slide into a position who is not qualified....or even worse...someone who has ties with unAmerican group??????

    I think CNN is just stirring the pot....probably is a very tough and frustrating process, but one that is needed after 911 and some of the incompetent people in the previous administration....

    July 17, 2009 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  18. Alex

    Its the same old story time and time again regardless which party holds the White House. "The Vetting Process" should be renamed "The Dirt Throwing Payback process." The party not in power takes the opportunity to lambast candidates regardless of qualification or any objective qualification. The idea is to create doubt in the individual's ability simple because, you did it to our folks when you held the White House. Now it's time for payback. Such is the adult and leadership quality pur politicians in Washington have.

    July 17, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  19. notabushwhacker

    I hope that the first black american-not african/american-kicks her fat butt in public. Wait, he does not have time to be president, he has too many photo shoots to attend to. If we needed a youtuber in the white house, why did we not change the election to a farse?

    July 17, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  20. Earth Trek

    Why fill legitimate cabinet positions when you can appoint Czars?
    This allows one to avoid the vetting process and congress completely.
    Very dangerous precedent being set by this administration, with intent.

    July 17, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  21. Marine

    And some of you folks actually thought this would work out? His sole reason to place in her current position was to essentially marginalize her, which he has done most skillfully. She is less dangerous to his radical agenda in her current position than her previous. The trouble is that ticking off the Clinton's isn't wise politically. They have remained silent thus far, but do not expect this to continue! They still have an extreme amount of political capital! And the bottom line is that both the moderate right & left are looking/waiting for someone to step up and have the "nuts" to start the ball rolling and diminish is media perpetuated cult stardom!

    July 17, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  22. Bob

    A process is nessasary, so we get the best person for the Job. And not just somebodys "Boo".

    Remember its call: Civil Service: to serve the people. Not to get rich, or powerful.... or special privledges (as most liberals feel intitled too"

    Get Real, Get Out, or Go home..................Socialists !!!

    July 17, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  23. Got to love the NeoCons

    Seriously I love the republicans. they think themselves to be so holy and forgot the last 8 years with Moron and Baldy screwing this country up.

    July 17, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  24. JV

    Would love to see Hillary vs. Obama in the primaries in 2012...given how he sqeaked by her in the last one without Florida and Michigan. I bet she'll do it. His honeymoon with America is over.

    July 17, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  25. John

    If the American public would have done a better job vetting BO during the election process we would not be in the mess we are in today with clown in office.

    July 17, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
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