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. Leah DiMarco, Texas

    President Obama is doing a good job and I think Hillary shouldn't be knocking him in public!

    July 13, 2009 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  2. Kaki

    With the initial problems the Obama Administration had getting people confirmed, I'm not surprised the vetting process takes so long. It seems that it is hard to find qualified people without a lot of baggage. Ms. Clinton should know something about that.

    July 13, 2009 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  3. C

    That photo isn't from today. Please use a photo from today's town hall meeting for this article.

    July 13, 2009 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  4. Croce

    This isn't an Obama problem. As Hillary stated, it gets worse with each Administration. This is a problem with both political parties jumping on ANY opportunity to trash a nominee from the opposing party. Unfortunately, many very qualified individuals have been prevented from serving their country as a result of this process.

    July 13, 2009 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  5. Jim

    I thinks its very misleading that you word you links to content on this website the the way you do. I dont think you need sensationalism to get readers to read the links. Most readers come here because they get enough of that at the foxnews site. We dont need that here. Real patriots support the president. regardless of party.

    July 13, 2009 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  6. GOPer

    Obama better be careful, Hillary will leave a knife in his back in a second. All she cares about is herself. Could this be a chink in the Obama armor? Time will tell.

    July 13, 2009 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  7. Allen

    Whatever, Hillary. He's just trying to put together a staff that is as bulletproof as possible. You're lucky he threw you a big meaty bone with the SOS job. You're probably just upset because you had some unqualified pal that either didn't want to go through the process or didn't pass the vetting.

    July 13, 2009 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  8. Steve851

    Repubs and Dems alike reap what they have sown. Another great argument for term limts

    July 13, 2009 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  9. Cnn please post my comments! 1 love!

    I like the Obama process better be safe than sorry. I would rather Government officials be top notch, unlike the poor process we have had in the past. Id rather all issues are out in the open and dealt with instead of embarrassing facts coming out later and the same people criticizing the Obama process now will be the first to throw stones, Hypocrites!!!

    July 13, 2009 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  10. Gentwelve

    We can all see that bipartisanship is bringing down the government and eventually the entire country. We will become a giant dysfunctional mess and break up into separate entities.

    July 13, 2009 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  11. JJ in NY

    The only thing that is REDICULOUS is hillary, the lady with the chipmunk cheeks .

    July 13, 2009 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  12. cspurgeon

    More people need to say it and get away from the obstructionism. It is rediculous when this country is in so much need and trouble and the people responsible need to be voted out next election.

    July 13, 2009 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  13. Reggie from LA

    Yeah, what "Seth in Jacksonville, FL" said. Do it right at the outset or bring on the ensuing circus.

    July 13, 2009 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  14. Michael

    Hillary was the best choice hands down. Would like to see her run against Obama next election. By then the country should realize she was the best choice the first time around. Things like that make me secind guess being a Democrat.

    July 13, 2009 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  15. stevie

    i dont wanna pay my taxes wither

    July 13, 2009 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  16. MJ

    Vet. Make sure it is done properly. Should always be that way.

    July 13, 2009 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  17. Alan Deane

    Red, I don't care how anonymous you think you are, you will not be allowed to talk like that. Learn. Be civilized.

    July 13, 2009 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  18. TM in CO

    And your point is?

    July 13, 2009 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  19. NRB

    Welcome to the real world, Hillary.

    Government only gets worse year after year!

    Now you know how those of us in the private sector suffer under the idiocy of government!

    July 13, 2009 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  20. Pat

    It's all about risk/reward. We live in such a gotcha media culture that government isn't willing to take any risk because they'll get hammered by the press if it turns out poorly. Never mind that is terrible for the nation that we don't get the right people or the right technology because we are so risk averse.

    The press was supposed to be the fourth pillar of government, but now that it's all owned by large corporations, money seems to be the only motive, not public service as our founders had hoped.

    Anyone else feel like we're approaching the end of the Roman Empire, and it's our own fault? That we're becoming so massively bureaucratic and slow that we're going to suffocate under the weight of ourselves?

    July 13, 2009 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  21. hypocrites_are_everywhere

    Unlike some sissy politicians (and those that voted them in) that denied responsibility for the invasion of Iraq, a $1T deficit, and 4321 deaths, at last, we have someone with balls to admit mistakes and take responsibility for them!

    Everyone (including gun/religion clingers) should be grateful!


    "I think I screwed up," Obama said in a wide-ranging interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper.

    "And I take responsibility for it and we're going to make sure we fix it so it doesn't happen again."

    July 13, 2009 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  22. bj,texas

    If o-duh-ma had been vetted properly for the position of pres in the same fashion his vetting process works, we would've found out that he is a muslim, that he was born in Kenya not Hawaii and finally that he is a socialist. Well, at least we've come to find out about the last one.

    July 13, 2009 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  23. Chris

    Ah... the first signs that the wheels are gonna start falling off this joke of an administration.

    July 13, 2009 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  24. Amanda

    Hillary 2012 – nuff said!

    July 13, 2009 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  25. Hot Chick

    Is it not how they discovered non-tax paying officials...

    July 13, 2009 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
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