The Trail: A Daily Diary of Campaign 2008


Hillary Rodham Clinton

Clinton: White House Vetting Is 'Cumbersome' and Getting 'Worse'

By Glenn Kessler
At a town-hall meeting today at the U.S. Agency of International Development, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton lashed out at the slow pace of getting people vetted for administration jobs. As a slightly edited version of her full comments below makes clear, this is an issue she takes very personally.

She had hoped to come to the agency with the name of a nominee to head it -- reputedly Harvard professor Paul Farmer -- but the announcement was nixed by the White House, she said in response to a question from a USAID employee wondering when political leadership of the agemcy would be named.

Here are her comments:

"We have worked very hard with the White House on looking for a candidate who, number one, wants the job; and number two -- (laughter) -- I mean, it's been offered. (Laughter.)

"But most significantly, the clearance and vetting process is a nightmare. And it takes far longer than any of us would want to see. It is frustrating beyond words. I 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 someone will be nominated shortly. I was unable. ... The message came back, 'We're not ready.'

"I know that you and I share a very strong desire to get the political leadership in place, because once we get an administrator and a deputy, there are a lot of other positions to be filled. I mean, we've got a long way to go. I mean, as probably many of you know, we don't have all the positions at the State Department filled either.

"So I think anyone who has gone through it or looked at this process would tell you that every administration, it gets worse and it gets more cumbersome. And unfortunately, with everything going on in the nomination and confirmation process, it is just taking a long, long time. And some very good people just didn't want to be vetted. Not that they've done anything wrong, that when they looked at the burdens of it and the fact that people who aren't very well off -- I mean, it's not that they're poor, don't get me wrong, but they're not multimillionaires. You know, you have to hire lawyers; you have to hire accountants. I mean, it is ridiculous!

"I mean, I'll say that as somebody -- 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 -- (laughter). It's really burdensome.

"And then one of my all-time favorite questions: "Please tell us every foreign national you know" -- (laughter). ... Finally, I said, this is ridiculous! I can't even remember -- you know, 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!

"So you're sensing my frustration."

Posted at 5:14 PM ET on Jul 13, 2009  | Category:  Hillary Rodham Clinton
Share This: Technorati talk bubble Technorati | Tag in | Digg This
Previous: Administration, RNC Skirmish Over the Economy | Next: Obama Lays Out His Plan for Pressuring Arab Leaders

Add 44 to Your Site
Be the first to know when there's a new installment of The Trail. This widget is easy to add to your Web site, and it will update every time there's a new entry on The Trail.
Get This Widget >>


Please email us to report offensive comments.

Posted by: scrivener50 | July 14, 2009 8:42 AM

Hey Hillary, haven't you figured it out yet? Obama is too busy creating czars; they don't have to be vetted or confirmed. As a matter of fact, you'll probably be replaced with the State Dept. Czar. It seems the Cabinet members are just window dressing in the BHO regime. I guess this is his pay back for all your negative campaigning. You can, pretty much, say bye bye to your political career.

Posted by: beaufortbilly | July 13, 2009 11:57 PM

Why not have them post a document on and call it good. That is all it takes to be vetted for the office of the President.

Posted by: Bubbette1 | July 13, 2009 10:01 PM

I think the "where have you lived" question sounds like a standard question that has been on security clearance forms for decades. Probably some of the others are also. Maybe they've been tweaked one way or the other from time to time and might have been expanded in recent years. But it always has been daunting for an older person who has to fill out any of these kinds of forms for the first time.

Posted by: StanKlein | July 13, 2009 9:16 PM

the thing about Rodham Clinton is she is not of this world. Because she has $106 Million socked away in a Hedge Fund there is really no need to analyze the financial engagement of anyone. The system works for politicos and there is never any reason look into it.

Posted by: angriestdogintheworld | July 13, 2009 7:32 PM

"she should pretend everything is moving smoothly and quickly"'re the one who is "hallucinating",proudgaycuban.

Clinton is right. Let Rahm and Axelrod deal with it. Critical vacancies are being held up by political operatives in the White House.

Posted by: rdklingus | July 13, 2009 7:03 PM

What is Hillary complaining about? She's the one hallucinating large buildings.

She should pretend everything is moving smoothly and quickly.

Posted by: proudgaycuban | July 13, 2009 6:38 PM

She's right. But this is where our "gotcha" culture has driven us.

Posted by: nodebris | July 13, 2009 6:16 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.


© 2009 The Washington Post Company