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. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    The process is a nightmare because The Party of Obstruction is scrutinizing everything. Everyone is under a magnifying glass.

    July 17, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  2. jane

    Who is responsible for this? There is no excuse for such a problem.

    July 17, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  3. Nick

    Seems that micro-management is alive and well..

    July 17, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  4. R in Maine

    Barak – I voted for you only because I could not vote for Hillary. Start making it possible to vote for Hillary if you are still seeking funding for your weird ideas. Respect for her ideas are what we need from you.

    July 17, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  5. Kevin

    She is out of order...but she is speaking the truth.

    July 17, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  6. Anonymous

    I'm sure Hillary would not want her past history revealed to anyone since she has a lot of skeletond in her closet.

    July 17, 2009 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  7. David in Pennsylvania

    She is a trip and always will be. I call people like her "Toppers". Read between the lines and you'll be able to figure things out....

    July 17, 2009 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  8. Dale

    Why does Obama not use the same vetting process to hire his czars? The czar cannot be given a free reign of power without oversight or investigation into their backgrounds or qualifications. Sounds like Obama wants full control of all the country a little like a socialist dictator.

    July 17, 2009 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  9. Jean

    Why don't she just shut up?

    July 17, 2009 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  10. Dennis

    I think she's trying to get fired so she can challenge him for the 2012 nomination.

    July 17, 2009 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  11. Jon in CA

    LOL.... why am I not surprised the Obama administration is having such a hard finding honest qualified nominees??

    When all else fails – just appoint a campaign contributor – right Obambi?

    July 17, 2009 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  12. rachel

    CNN you guys are making so much of this. She voice her frustration at not having her state department fully staffed. During her USAID address this past monday someone asked her WHEN they could get a full time administrator at USAID, and she answered honestly she said basically all the people that her and the white house felt were qualified either didnt want the job or DID not want to go through vetting where they have to hire accountants and lawyers. The process does sound like a nightmare especially if you arent a mulitmillionarie an expenisve nightmare. Her favorite question name every place you have lived since you were 18 and she said at certain age you can't even remember beign 18. Too bad you didnt cover her USAID address or her foreign policy speech or her trips abroad like you are covering this. CNN POST

    July 17, 2009 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  13. Eric

    Slams... Rips?? I don't see it.

    July 17, 2009 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  14. Gator

    She has missed the spotlight since she was president in the 90's. She should have been elected this time, she has a lot more on the job experience than obama.

    July 17, 2009 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  15. Nichole

    It's a Catch-22, if someone is appointed with a tainted history, there will be a lot of finger pointing about the lack of 'vetting'. Maybe the criteria are not inline with our standards? Who is going to be comfortable enough to want to serve our nation in an official capacity? Is every college escapade open to ridicule? The next time someone's past is racked over the coals, should we (as individual members in our society) fan the flames? How about a 10 year limit? Only the last decade is open to vetting for federal appointments – or would that endanger our national security?

    July 17, 2009 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  16. patNY

    Mr. President! Tear down that wall! Ease up on the Vetting process.!

    July 17, 2009 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  17. Matt

    Interesting. As much as I appreciate Secretary Clintons candor, it is a testament to how ineffective this adminstration has been in the first 6 months. If Healthcare does not get passed that is both viable and understandible to the American public, Obamas election will be a 50% failure.

    July 17, 2009 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  18. Richard

    It is hard to find lefties who pay their taxes.

    July 17, 2009 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  19. Opal

    Be careful Hilary, you are starting to act like those republicans. If they are not properly veted then there is a problem with the veting process.

    President Obama has been in office less then a year. Give him a break, the break ALL of the senators and congressmen gave Bush.

    July 17, 2009 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  20. Sam Sixpack

    It is a good thing this story popped up, otherwise, we would have to read all those negative comments (mysteriously deleted) about how the new health care bill will really be paid for by taxing employees for thier employer-provided health insurance. It will be biggest tax increase on the working class in our lifetimes — and you heard it first right here!!

    July 17, 2009 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  21. mjr17

    I've been surprised to hear about key positions not being filled at all or not until recently (uh surgeon general, anyone?). Hillary, You Go Girl!

    July 17, 2009 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  22. Ann

    Don't know exactly what CNN wants to accomplish with these posts about Hillary. I want her back and I hope he will run against Obama in 2012 because he has no idea what he is doing.

    Obama is so insecure and so sure that he is the only ethical person that his administration unnecessarily complicated the entire process. His interest is not to make things work, but to create mechanisms of control.

    July 17, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  23. dr.mimi de la cruz

    Well, well, well,
    Hillary running for president already.

    July 17, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  24. Chris

    This can be easily solved. Reject all former Clinton-ites, who are Big Business cronies, anyway. That will streamline the process, and clean out the conflicts of interest.

    July 17, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  25. Henry Miller

    A few months ago, the headlines were full of tax-evading nominees to Obama's staff. I guess Hillary doesn't much care about that as long as the people nominated are good tax-and-spend Democrats who are sure that wise Democrats with the richness of their experiences would more often than not reach better conclusions than anyone who isn't a Democrat.

    July 17, 2009 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
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