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. Seth in Jacksonville, FL

    And yet if any imperfections in someone's record come to light afterward, we hear all about how the person "wasn't properly vetted," and they point fingers and complain.

    July 13, 2009 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  2. Red

    Big Government at work. Hillary would have been so much better than this community organizer will less experience than most corporate mid-level managers. Obama is a joke.

    July 13, 2009 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  3. Kelby In Houston, TX

    It is ridiculous. Don't care

    July 13, 2009 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  4. rachel

    Lots and Lots of red tape and Hillary should know Obama put her and her husband through it.

    July 13, 2009 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  5. Matt

    It's because they are trying to avoid the inevitable GOP complaints that they didn't vet them properly. Even so, they will come, because the GOP doesn't have anything else to say.

    July 13, 2009 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  6. republicans hate america

    well if you dont do that the Rush Limbaugh Party will do just that come up with some phony outrage because the person you hired has a 15th removed cousin that bought an adult DVD when he was 21.

    July 13, 2009 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  7. Wolf Blitzer's Beard

    At what point did Clinton call the "Obama" process ridiculous? Great job of trying to make something sensational out of nothing, CNN.

    July 13, 2009 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  8. Gregg Goins

    It's amazing anything get done in Washington!

    July 13, 2009 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  9. Robert

    There are just so many security risks, and important information that these jobs handle, a thorough vetting process is very important. However, I think it would go much smoother if they were more comfortable directing more funds and man power towards that goal. How anyone could say this is "big government at work" is beyond me. It is a GOOD government that thoroughly vets their employees. It is a bad government that gives, say, the job of FEMA director to horse trainers who have less government experience to work through.

    July 13, 2009 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  10. PaulMoATX

    Exactly Seth. Somebody always has something to whine about, and the whining is worse during tougher times. People should learn to be grateful and accountable instead of always complaining. Point in case, look at Red's comments, like he's somebody special and is currently working his butt off for the American people.

    July 13, 2009 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  11. Dave Froyalde/Washington

    I share your frustrations Hillary. I am sure you won't have this kind of problem if you are the one in the White House. Anyway, good luck to you as secretary of state.

    July 13, 2009 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  12. Eric

    Glad the most vetted politician in modern history is getting her sense of humor back.

    We've missed you, Hill!

    July 13, 2009 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  13. OFL

    Red is right, big government at its best.

    July 13, 2009 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  14. Nathan from Atlanta

    I'm sure it is because Obama knows the scrutiny his administrators will get from the right. It doesn't sound like Clinton is trying to dog Obama.

    July 13, 2009 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  15. Shannon

    and yet it this process seems to miss that a lot of Obama's choices don't seem to think they need to pay their taxes like the rest of us. I agree with Red, Hillary would have been much better as a leader, but the Dems threw her under the bus.

    July 13, 2009 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  16. Albo58

    If the Democrats just had some nominees that were remotely qualified, tax-paying, and were scandal free, then this process would go a whole lot faster! If the lib press did it's job, then a lot of folks inside this administration would not have been confirmed as it is!

    July 13, 2009 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  17. just truth

    nees some cheese with that? It's the gov. they should be questioned. if a few more had been questioned in the past maybe we would not be in the shape we are now!

    July 13, 2009 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  18. Kush

    We need a WOMAN in the White House to get this done.

    Hillary, you, of course, were, are and will be the best choice for America!!

    July 13, 2009 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  19. dbacchus

    So NOW Hillary complains 😉 Where have you been when your husband was using the exact same vetting rules? Oh, I forgot – you only care now, when it concerns you 🙂
    I am so glad that Clintons are irrelevant!

    July 13, 2009 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  20. kate

    I agree with Red
    it's also too bad Obama doesn't let Hillary do the job she was asked to do....

    July 13, 2009 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  21. Linnaeus

    We have the best person available as president.

    July 13, 2009 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  22. Brian

    In today's poltical climate one can never be too safe when reviewing a high ranking official's background. It comes down to national security, and even the Clintons are not immune to that process...

    July 13, 2009 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  23. tom

    Obama may be a joke, but he is a very dangerous and unfunny joke!!!

    July 13, 2009 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  24. OH-Brother

    I'm with Hillary, the lack of expierence within the Obama Admin is amazing. This is going to be a long, hard 4 years.

    July 13, 2009 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  25. kate

    isn't it ironic Obama wasn't vetted but everyone else is?

    July 13, 2009 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
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