July 13th, 2009
07:25 PM ET
13 years ago

Clinton: Vetting process for administration jobs 'a nightmare'

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/13/art.hrchand0713.gi.jpg caption="Secretary of State Clinton spoke out Monday about the Obama administration's rigorous vetting process."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton showed a rare flash of frustration Monday - calling the vetting process for Obama administration nominees "ridiculous" and "a nightmare."

At a question-and-answer session with staff from the U.S. Agency for International Development, a woman asked her when the agency would be getting a new administrator and "why it's taking so long."

"Let me say it's not for lack of trying," Clinton replied. "The process - the clearance and vetting process - is a nightmare," she told the staff. "It takes far longer than any of us would want to see. It is frustrating beyond words."

The secretary said she "pushed very hard last week, when I knew I was coming here, to get permission from the White House to be able to tell you that help is on the way and somebody will be nominated shortly." But, she said, "the message came back, 'We're not ready.'"

"Anyone who has gone through it or looked at this process will tell you that every administration it gets worse," she added.

"Some very good people just didn't want to be vetted," she explained. "You have to hire lawyers, you have to hire accountants. I mean, it is ridiculous!"

Drawing laughs from the crowd, Clinton said, "And then 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!"

One of her "all-time favorite questions," she said, is, "Please tell us every foreign national you know."

"I mean, some people who are of different ancestry, they're a hyphenated American and they have family still living in other countries, finally said it's ridiculous. I mean, I have lots of cousins I've never met. You're going to ask me to put their names down so they can all be interviewed? That's ridiculous!

"You're sensing my frustration!" Clinton sighed.

Filed under: Extra • Hillary Clinton • Obama administration • Popular Posts
soundoff (300 Responses)
  1. John - San Jose

    Rachel, have some common sense. if you think Obama can step on the Clintons, then I will advice you go to bed and come back and write again. This is the HRC I know and supported. I voted for Obama in the general but I am starting to think I wasted my vote, I hope I am wrong. Obama gets back to solving our domestic issues and live the States and other foreign issues to HRC

    July 13, 2009 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  2. Robert

    The vetting process may be "frustrating", but it is highly important. A previous poster was correct. If something negative comes to light later, everyone wonders why the weren't properly vetted.

    July 13, 2009 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  3. Eric

    I think the headline is a little misleading as she seems more frustrated that things take so long rather than the fact that "Obama's process is ridiculous". The sad thing is that a conversation with staffers that could have been private and free flowing is being so discussed. It is a shame as the next time the Sec of State or others may not be so candid with fellow government employees.

    July 13, 2009 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  4. Anwar

    I think taking your time and not rushing to select these important positions are a good thing..Look at what happened in the last 8 years. And you're telling me you liked what has happened to the U.S.? I think give Obama some time just like a rookie quarterback in the NFL. Give him time to grow and with a good offense and defense America will be back where we're used to. So, Red, Obama isn't a joke, rather the last 8 years has been so sad its funny.

    July 13, 2009 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  5. Brian Macker

    Yeah, that requirement that they should be tax evaders makes things real hard.

    July 13, 2009 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  6. Missing the point?

    I agree with Seth in Jacksonville, FL. Taken out of context it might be a jab at Obama, but without jumping to conclusions do you think she was just talking about the vetting process in general and how critics will nit pick every little detail of an appointee's life? Not really Obama's fault these days.

    July 13, 2009 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  7. Bernice B.Johnson

    It is o.k.to have "a rare flash of frustration." sometime it is neccessary to let yourself be heard. I know you are paddling very hard beneath the water. B+.

    July 13, 2009 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  8. Susie

    Hillary you are Much too ihtelligent and worthy of ever being in this assinine frey!! You are so much more worthy – why would you continue to help us – the real people – when you could be in better life positions??? Why do you waste your intelligence and worthiness on US??? WHY, Hillary – it will NEVER be our world again!!!~ However,

    Thank you beloved, admirable woman – BUT – black is black and we are white – and never the twain will meet!!!
    It is written – NOW – WITH THE NOBAMA REGIME!!!!

    July 13, 2009 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  9. DH

    So this reinforces our trusting Barry's push for govt-control over corp's? Oh, sorry CNN, didn't mean to be less than sentimental and endearing toward your agenda proclivities.

    July 13, 2009 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  10. Shut up Hilary!

    If people would have integrity the process would not be so bad! Hilary should shut up and do her job! She wanted to be president and could not use a computer. Go pay your bills, watch Bill and go to slepp. We have a president that is doing more in the seven months he has been in office than some politicians do in a lifetime. Hilary makes me sick!

    July 13, 2009 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  11. Kel

    I agree with Seth in Jacksonville, FL. That's exactly what would happen. I mean sure, maybe they should be less stringent because I hear the vetting process is quite strenuous. But I'd rather be safe than sorry. She was obviously telling the truth, but also in jest so I wouldn't take it too seriously. I mean, really, is this a big deal?

    July 13, 2009 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  12. Henry

    Here it comes, a trial ballon to see how the public reacts to the idea of making the vetting process shorter. Breaking another campaign promise. What a joke Obama is

    July 13, 2009 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  13. Warren

    That's how the system works, It has been like that since the begining with every president , so here we go blaming Obama again give him a chance..

    July 13, 2009 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  14. EG

    This is not something that Obama created, it's been around for ages. Don't blame blockheadedness on him.

    July 13, 2009 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  15. Anonymous

    She is actually referencing the process for getting security clearances. Most people in the military or with any kind of clearance have to provide this same information. I know I gave it as early as 97, when Clinton was still in office.

    July 13, 2009 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  16. independent Jim

    Hillary is a leader. Obama is a nice guy, but Congress's tail is about to wag the Executive Department's dog. I suspect nothing Obama wants will be recognizable after Congress gets through morphing it. Would have been vastly different will Hillary as President – she knows how to work the system.

    July 13, 2009 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  17. Barney Frankie

    The title for this article was completely misleading.

    July 13, 2009 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  18. Mike, Vancouver

    If individuals will not be vetted by the administration, they should not apply. If they don't apply, what have they to hide. there is something to be squeakiy clean in todays world as it doesn't come back on you like bad cucumbers. Bad cucumbers only allow you to look backward rather than forward. Give it a break, you want the job, submit. this goes for any good paying job in America.

    July 13, 2009 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  19. Kash

    The Obama admin. sad to say has no guts. She is showing that.. oh well we are stuck with him... let's make the best of this!

    July 13, 2009 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  20. Mo

    Much rather these people are thoroughly vetted than have something stupid to come up from their past to shame the nation. So what if the questions are tough...we are talking about some of the most important jobs in our nation. We can't afford to have anything less the best.

    July 13, 2009 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  21. Tricia

    Seth you said it best. others, not hearing what was said, only venting your own frustrations perhaps?

    July 13, 2009 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  22. Burly

    Yes we can. Yes we did. And, yes we're paying for it ... dearly!

    July 13, 2009 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  23. Frank from Gilroy

    After 8 years of zero ethic vetting we have to have 8 years of 100% total vetting to get back to even

    July 13, 2009 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  24. matt

    This isn't a partisan problem. As a federal employee, I had to do the exact same thing regardless of who was in office

    July 13, 2009 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  25. Michael Kyle

    I think this article and its angle takes Clinton's quotes out of context. And who really cares anyways? I bet the media is dying to expose Clinton as having pent up emotion that she didnt win the presidency, but I doubt that is the case. In fact, I bet she is loving life a hell of a lot more not having to go gray quite as early as Obama! 😉 Start focusing on REAL political issues like the defunct political system in California! This is not even worth a ticker item...

    July 13, 2009 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
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