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. Ambrose Smith, Borrego Springs, California

    Ask McCain for vetting advice. He can do it in a jiffy!

    July 13, 2009 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  2. Dan

    The Clintons are so dirty that there had to be a thorough vetting process. Sorry that inconvenienced her.

    July 13, 2009 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  3. jaxon

    Somebody toss that woman a bone!

    July 13, 2009 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  4. Kholl

    This headline was completely misleading. It implied Hillary criticized the Obama administration in particular; rather she was critical of the overall vetting process that is now so rigorous that no one is willing to enter into it. She only said it gets worse and worse with each administration. Come on, CNN, be more honest....or we'll keep you honest.

    July 13, 2009 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  5. Joseph

    wow the title made it seem like she was attacking Obama specifically she was really just attacking the process good hype CNN

    July 13, 2009 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  6. Tara

    Seth said..."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"

    Seth you are so right.Then they complain and say the Obama doesn't know what he is doing and is putting the country in danger and is causing "drama in the administration and so on and so on. I say VET VET VET and then VET some more. These are very important positions.. Sorry Hillary that Obama doesn't do it like you, bubba and the Bushies and just Hire all his buddies and big money pals!!!!!

    July 13, 2009 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  7. Tara

    Also Here we go... I was waiting to see how long it would take before her majesty would let the fangs show... I knew it would not be long... Who ever thought that HIllary would just ride off inot the sunset at the SEcretary of STate was sadly mistaken... this is just the beginning folks....

    July 13, 2009 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  8. jack

    this whole process of vewtting is a complete joke these are the time we wish we had bill clinton back–employment 100 percent, foreclosures zero–to much tape

    July 13, 2009 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  9. Thank God I'm A Democrat

    Hillary is finally going to show her true colors. I just didn't think it would be so soon. How unfortunate for President Obama.

    July 13, 2009 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  10. Bobby

    Bear with them.....we'll wrestle this one away from them. They are having a hard time accepting this one. To wit, we will not give up!(no need to) Bobby and those boys said so. Good to have a battle on our hands - and, as Shakespeare said - the truth will out tho all the world or' whelm it. (Just can't hold us cojures back!) Forward.

    July 13, 2009 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  11. Andy Pate

    Hillary's comment is not controversial at all. Mainly, it's a statement about her frustration with the necessary steps in the process. They're "ridiculous." But we've seen so many appointed that were vetted poorly. So there's good reason to be extra careful

    July 13, 2009 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  12. Jason

    The misleading (sensational) link makes it sound like she's criticizing the Obama Administration specifically, when all she's doing is lamenting the process itself.

    July 13, 2009 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  13. Abe

    Shame on you CNN. The title on the previous page implying Clinton calling the Obama process ridiculous and what she actually said is completely different. You made it sound something else.

    July 13, 2009 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  14. Ren from Baltimore

    Dear Ticker:

    You must have had drastic staff changes over the past two months. You are no longer funny, relevant, even-handed as you one might have been.

    I address your teaser/headline for this "news article:" Ticker: Obama process 'ridiculous,' Clinton says . Turn to the story, and it's about the horrendously growing-by-administration vetting process. Not about Obama, not about Clinton, but about bureaucratic bs.

    You've been losing your touch, your punch, and again, your relevance by using these high-school level tricks to get readers. Please clean up; t his was always the first thing I looked at upon getting home from work.

    July 13, 2009 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  15. Steve

    Really? How come several of his appointees backed out cause they didnt pay their taxes!?

    July 13, 2009 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  16. Lavonia in South Carolina

    I agree with you Seth. If these nominees are not properly vetted, then the same peole, such as Hillary, would be criticizing the president for nominating peole who are either unqualified or has serious problems in their backgrounds.

    You just can't win with some people. Damed if you do, and damed if you don't!

    July 13, 2009 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  17. 60's survivor

    it's a sign of these ridiculous times. we are so afraid of our human frailties and failures. forgetting that thisvis what we learn from. you just can't please everybody – and it's obvious to me you shouldn't even try to !! many look for any twisted reason to bring another down. just listen to how polititions and even their supporters talk. it's a wonder to me why anyone would want to take leadership roles this day and age. come to think of it at anytime in history!

    July 13, 2009 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  18. Scott California

    If only Hillary were President....

    July 13, 2009 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  19. kjeannie

    Too much Gotcha Politics and not enough serious business.

    July 13, 2009 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  20. lynne

    I suppose she wants them to use the same vetting process they used with her....in that process anything goes.

    July 13, 2009 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  21. hhs

    Mrs. Clinton should know about how long and difficult it is to get positions filled; her husband has the record for highest average number of days to fill senate confirmed positions (267 days) as well as the highest average number of days to fill deputy agency and inspecter general postions (457 and 452 days)

    July 13, 2009 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  22. Mark of Saint Louis

    Just goes to show how many people have skeletons in their closet. Like every one has. Only one problem, you shouldn't have appointed a guy to the IRS who's cheated on his taxes. That's an obvious lack of wisdom.

    July 13, 2009 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  23. Steve - Minneapolis

    Good that we are learning what it means to have a professional team in office. Few mistakes, high caliber people – like Hillary. Not sure where these comments are coming from or intended. She is smarter than this.

    July 13, 2009 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  24. Laurens R. Hunt

    I see everything that Hillary Rodham Clinton is saying. Some of the topics that Mrs. Clinton broached really are in fact extrinsic to the qualifications (or lack thereof) pertaining to the respectively vetted nominee. I think that the best litmus test is hands on experience. What should be examined is how does the person answer questions, how does she/ he respond to controversial decisions, is she/ he willing to accept that some opponents will be offended regardless, does the person have well restrained temperament or is she/ he very excitable and erratic, and is the person well informed about the subject matter at hand. The revelations of these answers will still take time, but these benchmarks are at least much more concrete than the criteria that Hillary Rodham Clinton has addresses. Yes I empathize with Mrs. Clinton wholeheartedly. The entire vetting process is just plainly ridiculous.

    July 13, 2009 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  25. John from Canada

    Surprise, surprise, surprise!!!
    President Obama was never ready for the job anyway. Without a teleprompter he is a lost soul. Hillary was the obvious choice but everyone got caught up in the Hollywood candidate without assessing his credentials.
    Now you got him so live with the consequences.

    July 13, 2009 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
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