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. EJ

    Keep trying to stir up gossip, CNN. As long as it profts by leading people to your website. Who needs real journalism anyway.

    July 17, 2009 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  2. Jhak Schiddt

    Hillary in '12!!

    July 17, 2009 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  3. canta

    Health care plan is going to cost every american, every company. I can see more companies just hanging up their hats and closing. It is going to be way to expensive. Ii has provisions in it to do away with health care savings plans, individual plans and would most likely put some insurance companies out of business. We will have no choice. check out the article on wnd

    July 17, 2009 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  4. halfmn

    what does Obama's vetting process have to do with the Republicans ? is he asking them their opinion. bet not !
    you can't fill those positions, the czars already have them.. wake up !! ss, get a clue !

    July 17, 2009 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  5. Cee

    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.

    July 17, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  6. Guy

    It's starting... The rift between them is starting.

    July 17, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  7. makesUwonder

    Bet Mrs. Clinton wishes Obama had asked her which position she would have prefered..........Vice President or Secretary of State......before Obama asked Joe Biden. Like I said before Mrs. Clinton, Obama and Biden gave you the left over. Nice guys aren't they?

    July 17, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  8. Bill, Bloominton IL

    Ethics? How will Obama expect Americans to pay more in taxes to fund Obamacare when his own nominees are criminal and didnt pay their taxes? Unless of coures Ted kennedy slipped that one in also. The idea that the Obama team has double and triple checked qualifications is foolish because it is not that hard to contact the IRS.

    July 17, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  9. Fla.

    Hillary makes a great SoS, and I understand some concerns. Many Americans still want officials screened properly to avoid unethical appointments as much as possible. Find a balance and get the positions filled.

    Bill, Bloominton IL

    Sorry, but your post is exactly what's wrong with the Republican Party, obstructing to maintain the status quo while spreading misinformation...

    Correction: you can still keep your current healthcare coverage under the proposed changes in Congress. Please stop with the right wing propaganda.

    July 17, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  10. Nathan

    Given the amount of media coverage, staff resources and time it takes for the white house to get it's arms wrapped around every scandal that pops up, it still seems like a time saver to me for this rule to be in effect. No one said it would be a cake walk. Doing due diligence sometimes can cause delays at the outset, but having a high % of certainty that your staff at a certain paygrade aren't going off the reservation and fouling things up can be very beneficial and cost efficient in the long run.

    July 17, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  11. Debby

    Good for her this country is going down the tubes and she knows it.

    July 17, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  12. Davey

    Mark M:

    Change the record. It's been proven over and over and over and over and over again.

    Get over it.

    July 17, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  13. Lee, Ann Arbor, Michigan

    Too bad there wasn't more of a vetting process for Obama...he would NOT be our President if there was.

    He got a free ride and pushed into office by the main stream media and now we're stuck with him for 3 1/2 more years...if our Great Country can make it without going bankrupt.

    July 17, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  14. Melissa

    I'm so tired of the selective hearing of both the press and the mainstream American.

    She isn't just talking about the Obama administration. For gods sakes, yesterday she said that "it gets worse with each administration".

    And frankly, what do you people want exactly? In the first couple months of the Obama administration, everyone was moaning about how Obama wasn't vetting people enough before declaring them. NOW you people are complaining that his vetting process is too stringent.

    Pick one or get over it.

    July 17, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  15. John

    Ms Clinton,

    Just forget the Vetting Process.

    Just do what Bush Administration did, Just follow the Bush Administration.

    Just hire all Jokers and Clowns like Bush Administration hired.

    Just Screw up the Country like Bush administration Screwed UP.

    July 17, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  16. Jim

    Odd how the man who refuses to provide a birth certificate has this extensive process that allows him to put forth obvious and deliberate tax cheats (one does not forget to pay a tax 16 times when you sign a form each time that states you need to pay the tax). Some great vetting process. I guess the standard is so low they can't get anyone who isn't more ethical than a Chicago thug (like Dead-Fish Emmanuel) to pass muster. Now that is a low standard!


    July 17, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  17. Jon T.

    Mark M.: for crying out loud, he has provided his birth certificate! This is a made-up issue. If he personally showed it to you, you would find something else "wrong" with it or something else to deligitimize him. There is also a birth announcement in a Hawaii newspaper. Just ask yourself, is there anything that would satisfy you that Obama is a natural born citizen?

    July 17, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  18. Amy

    BLAH. Democrats.

    July 17, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  19. Dave in Houston

    Looks like someone is angling to get fired, and try for the job she really wants in '12.

    Probably got the idea from Sarah Palin.

    July 17, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  20. Abby

    She's right, it is ridiculous. 6mos=1/8th of Obama's term that is already over. It's a complete waste of time. What is everyone waiting for?

    July 17, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  21. Fla.


    From your baseless accusations, the only sane consideration is to keep more of that far right nonsense out of our government in 2010 & 2012.

    July 17, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  22. Expat American

    To the ‘Bridezilla – Starting Over – She’s Got The Look’ crowd.

    Du Calme, please!

    President Obama is not directly involved in the vetting process – sitting at his desk intentionally holding up a big roll of USG red tape.

    I support the Secretary of State and will if she runs for President again. But she has her job, she’s been vetted…and her debt is almost paid off. Pourquoi the trumpets Madame Secretary?

    July 17, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  23. lefty loosy

    "Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer"
    Obama did just that with Hillary as sec of state , good move.
    Can we shut her up now , she is posturing for 2012 , no doubt.
    How do you spell corruption "CLINTON"
    At least Obama is a breath of fresh air , and is moving to the center.

    July 17, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  24. simon

    Better start vetting now for positions that will open up once the new Health Care is in place somewhere over the Horizon!!!

    July 17, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  25. Aunt Bea and Opie

    Thanks for pointing that out for us Hillary.Lets see if we cant change things and get them both elected to three terms,they are doing a great job.

    July 17, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
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