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. Alex

    Hillary 2012!

    Obama keeps traveling and is not fixing the ecconomy.

    July 17, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  2. joe mett

    Hillary,Thanks you were not elected president. What is so dire or urgent about naming the head of USAID that you have gone ballistic? Please better take more lessons in diplomacy!

    July 17, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  3. J Farrow

    Sounds like Clinton and Obama should get together and work this out.

    July 17, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  4. JK

    It's a time consuming process to sort out Democratic political hacks who haven't paid their taxes - there are too many to chose from.

    July 17, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  5. Mr Test

    Just a lil test comment yall.

    July 17, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  6. Shawn - GA

    Mrs. Clinton has outsmarted the President I think.

    She is just about out of her debt, she no longer "needs" the President. She can't just be "fired" as it will be seen as Obama getting rid of anyone who "dares" go against him.

    I am honestly surprised by this whole thing playing out with them.

    God Bless America, her people and her President

    July 17, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  7. Hugo

    This is great! Weeding out the thugs! I'm so glad the Usurper in Chief implemented higher ethics rules for his underlings, I guess those rules don't apply to him though, darnit, where is that old passport now?

    July 17, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  8. sifto77

    the woman makes no sense–she is the one who said Obama was not vetted (in the primaries). She was right about that. why is she now wanting LESS vetting? on another subject–Obama's Czars are not vetted at all......I wish the dems would make up their minds...and the liberal circus continues.....

    July 17, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  9. joe

    Apparently she has not learned from her husbands administration. How many people were nominted for positions andthen something turned up to embarrass the people and the administration. Obama is be cautious and has learned from a couple of his early appointments like Bill Richardson. Might have been slightly embarassed tehn but now he wants to make the rights moves and have no regrets. I applaud his mehtods.... Appears Hillary is getting ruffled and it should make all wonder how much longer she will be in the administration(probably as soon as she gets her debts paid off)
    If she leaves good bye...and nobody will miss you.......

    July 17, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  10. sifto77

    Further–I do not recall Hillary complaining when Joe the Plumber went through a "CIA type" vetting process for simply asking Obama a question.

    July 17, 2009 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  11. phoenix86

    "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.

    Don't worry Hillary, your foreign counterparts know how incompetent your boss is. You need not explain anything.

    July 17, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  12. DJ

    OK, Hillary. What's your strategy here? You're reinforcing what a lot of people already think about you. Everybody else knows you don't fight your battles in the press. You go to the boss. And if you've gone to the press, you've already lost and you're looking for an end run. Don't try to make an end run around the President of the United States. Obama needs to quash this.

    July 17, 2009 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  13. Idiot_Pelosi

    Oh, Poor Hillary can't accomplish anything internationally because she is not respected. Well, there's a shock, NOT !!!!

    So all this kiss-up diplomacy from the OBUMMER administration isn't working............... HMMM,

    Recall Obummer Now

    July 17, 2009 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  14. Stir the Pot

    Yes, they would just assume dispense with accountability and put in whoever they want.

    July 17, 2009 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  15. Jon, Pittsburgh, PA

    "Clinton again slams Obama process" is the headline???????

    Give me a break CNN.

    No wonder the average American is so horribly misinformed.

    July 17, 2009 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  16. Aunt Bea and Opie

    Those Dems who vote against her are republican plants put in office years ago just for this day.They will lose their seats fast but will be hired by big Pharma and others as their payoffs.We need to make a public photo list of these people so that all Americans everywhere recognize them where ever they go,a ten most wanted list ,if you may.

    July 17, 2009 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  17. DLYNN

    Glad Hillary speaks out!

    We desperately need those positions filled and how can we honestly expect good nominees to wait months for the vetting process and incur considerable financial expense on their part. Who is willing to go through that? Apparently, not many, and to those nominees who have tried, waited, and given up, I apologize.

    what a country!

    July 17, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  18. AndrewCPA

    Well President Obama did promise "change"... just did not say where the "change" was going to happen. Funny that it takes so long, but he will grant waviers, etc for people that are failing his 600 pages of questions. Now lets see how many people will blame President Bush or any other Republican.

    July 17, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  19. Justin Seine

    Is it possible that we finally have an administration that will only bring honest employees on board. Ones who pay their taxes, have no skeletons in their closets and have only the people's agenda at heart????

    I guess you just can't get good help these days!

    July 17, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  20. Chas in Iowa

    Though cumbersome the process is necessary.

    Unless you feel comfortable with another catastrophy like a manager of the Arabian horse club running FEMA.

    Go Browny

    July 17, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  21. Jim in Rochester (NY)

    If Hillary doesn't like the way her boss operates, then she should resign. At the moment, she's not serving the President well.

    July 17, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  22. Katy

    because she can't get her people to the positions. She can't stand "change".

    July 17, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  23. JD

    The Obama admin can't win. Before they were criticized for their lack of vetting process which allowed at least 3 candidates who had tax problems. Now they are being very careful and they again are criticized.

    July 17, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  24. 200+ years, needs an over haul

    I agree

    the tax system

    the govt. departments

    the vetting process

    lots of things have gotten too heavy

    July 17, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  25. Randolph Carter

    I'm still waiting for the results of the full body cavity searches. Have a nice day!

    July 17, 2009 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
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