June 5th, 2013
07:16 AM ET
2 years ago

Obama's national security adviser to resign, Rice to step in

Updated 8:41 a.m. ET Wednesday 6/5

(CNN) – Susan Rice, United States ambassador to the United Nations, will replace Tom Donilon as President Barack Obama's national security adviser, a senior administration official said Wednesday.

The president will announce the personnel change Wednesday afternoon at the White House, an administration official said.

Samantha Power, former special assistant to the president and senior director for multilateral affairs and human rights at the National Security Council, will take Rice's spot as U.S. ambassador, a senior administration official also said.

Rice, a longtime Obama confidante, became the center of controversy in the days after the attack on a U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, last year after she maintained the attack was a spontaneous act during a protest rather than the terror attack.

Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah pounced on the staff change Wednesday morning, criticizing Rice for lacking the right judgment for the job.

Rice was considered a top contender to succeed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the start of Obama's second term, but Republican pushback forced her to withdraw from consideration in December.

Obama ultimately nominated former Sen. John Kerry for the post.

As the Chaffetz tweet indicates, Rice could face renewed political opposition from the GOP in her appointment. The Senate, however, does not have to confirm the president's nominee for national security adviser.

Sen. John McCain, one of Rice's most strident critics in the Benghazi aftermath, wrote Wednesday that he's not pleased with her new role but pledged to work with her nonetheless.

Power, on the other hand, will need approval from the Senate for the ambassadorship. Known as a big proponent for intervening in human rights cases, she was one of the loudest voices making the case to get involved in Libya's civil war.

Power also made headlines in March 2008 for resigning from her role as an adviser to Obama's presidential campaign after she called his then-Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton a "monster." Power later apologized to Clinton and the two have put it behind them.

More importantly, both Power and Rice will be dealing with issues like chemical weapons in Syria, unrest across the Middle East and Iran's suspected nuclear weapons program - meaning the attention surrounding their new positions - especially for Power - will be high.

Obama picked Donilon - then deputy national security adviser - to replace retired Marine Gen. Jim Jones for the post in October 2010. Donilon was heavily involved in the raid to kill Osama bin Laden in 2011.

Rice was considered a possible candidate for the job when Jones stepped down, as she was one of Obama's most public foreign policy voices during his 2008 presidential campaign.

Donilon also served as chief of staff to Secretary of State Warren Christopher in the Clinton administration.


Filed under: President Obama • Susan Rice • Tom Donilon • White House
soundoff (296 Responses)
  1. Lynda/Minnesota

    As far as I am concerned the media trumped up Susan Rice fiasco played itself out long ago courtesy of McCain. Kudos to President Obama for not falling for GOPerville's threats, temper tantrums, and obstruction. I for one am tired of the grandstanding, the obstruction, the childish pranks the GOP has pulled for the past 5 years. I suspect there are millions of others just as weary of what has become of the Grand Old Party - a poltical party that truly WAS (years ago) filled with those who actually DID put their country first.

    Are we better off as a Nation because of GOPerville theatrics? No. No, we are not.

    June 5, 2013 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  2. rs

    She now gets pay back from Obama, for going out and lying to the world, knowingly, about Benghazi.
    ___________________
    Please explain the lie-and PROVE it. No terrorist organization known, or previously unknown HAS EVER stepped forward and claimed responsibility for setting fire to the building that killed the embassy staff. Were they locals? Were they Lybian loyalists? Were they terrorists? Were they radicals? Were they pro-or anti-US? No one knows. For pity's sake, Libya was in revolutions. Rice's statements are about as truthful as it gets with this mess. Sure, the GOP wants so very desperately to make something, anything, out of Benghaz to attack the President withi, and even wound up leaking the CIA's classified role in being in Benghazi in the first place in a feeble attempt to makeinto something.I guess treason is justified by their hatred for Obama, eh? The GOP and the Right-wing echo chamber sent Romney into the second debate with this- he just looked stupid. Until the GOP has proof (and after numerous hearings, $millions spent, 25,000 pages of testimony, thousands of e-mails), I think it safe to say there is nothing here. Saying Rice lied simply doesn't make it so, no matter how hard you wish it.
    It is this sort of revisionist fact making that reduces the GOP's credibility a little bit every day that they engage in this behavior.

    June 5, 2013 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  3. Bill from GA

    From the article:
    "...will take Rice's spot as U.S. ambassador"

    Shouldn't that be UN Ambassador??

    June 5, 2013 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  4. conchytonker

    She got her payoff. Not every president gets to hide behind a skirt for protection.

    June 5, 2013 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  5. Rudy NYC

    WTF wrote:

    "This is a joke right?"

    Jim wrote:

    Wow. Talk about salt in the wound. This is just a slap in the face to anyone paying attention. What gall this guy has.
    ---------------
    The joke's on the right wing. This is red meat for the right wing to make fools of themselves once again.

    June 5, 2013 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  6. truth hurts but reality bites

    Well, we can now say with 100% certainty that what Obama values in a person is their ability to lie fo rthe furtherance of the Obama agenda. Credibility? Competence?? Way down on the list.

    June 5, 2013 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  7. Rudy NYC

    Reality Check wrote:

    I dont get it...97 GOP Congressmen wrote to Obama NOT to nominate Rice...yet he does...then he says he wants to work with Republicans...I can see a WHOLE lot of nothing coming out of this WH and Congress.
    ----------------
    Well we don't get it, either. The letter was written opposing her appointment to the Sec'y of State. You're conflating that post with another one. Do you really think that non-conservatives are that dumb not to see through that?

    "Nice try, but we gotcha."

    June 5, 2013 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  8. mission accomplished

    hahahahaha!! well, her appointment sure has taken eveybody's attention off all the other scandals hasn't it?!! this is why this was done right now! you are all being manipulated.

    June 5, 2013 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  9. Goblin King

    At least we won't have to guess that she's lying or misleading us. We already know the answer is yes.

    June 5, 2013 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  10. Dan

    The BIG liar appoints another liar to help him lie! Still blaming the video. Still lying.

    June 5, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  11. cmjt

    A liar appoints another liar to advise him.

    While it maybe true that they are not guilty of anything that hasn't been done before we can add the lies of how this was to be a "new", a "changed" a "transparent" Washington.

    It is the same old game: She gets promoted to keep in exchange for keeping her mouth shut about who invented the lie about the death of 4 American citizens.

    June 5, 2013 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  12. Bill from GA

    A lot of what Susan Rice did not say about Benghazi might be the kind of things we didn't talk about during the Cold War. Our CIA, NSA, and such, wanted it that way for a reason. Now the press is entitled to 'print' whatever info they can get, by any way they can manage to get it.

    But since we are rehashing Benghazi, a few questions remain unasked:

    What was Ambassador Stevens dong there?

    What was the CIA's involvement there? Are CIA 'branches', or whatever it was called, all that common?

    Was the CIA's involvement there the cause of the attack?

    Info along those lines might shed some light on the reason the Mission Outpost at Benghazi was not defended like an Embassy. Kinda hard to conduct secret business with a lot of Marines drawing attention.

    No political ammo there, no source of embarrassment to the President, so those issues are not important. But the answers might let us better understand the job Stevens was doing. He probably deserves more acclaim, for work above and beyond the duties of an Ambassador, even more than he has already received.

    June 5, 2013 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  13. Bill

    This was a good choice. She will tow the line with whatever the administration wants to be said. "pay no attention to that terrorist behind the curtain. Nothing to see here"

    June 5, 2013 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  14. Rudy NYC

    Bill from GA wrote:

    ....But since we are rehashing Benghazi, a few questions remain unasked:

    What was Ambassador Stevens dong there?

    What was the CIA's involvement there? Are CIA 'branches', or whatever it was called, all that common?

    Was the CIA's involvement there the cause of the attack?
    -----------------
    Stevens was there to oversee the setting up of a consulate office in the eastern half of the country.

    What was Sen. John McCain's involvement with the CIA in Benghazi when he paid it a secret visit?
    Were any of the people who met with Sen. McCain involved in the later attack on the compound?

    Conservatives need to quit while they're ahead (behind actually, but you know what I mean), accept defeat and move on.

    June 5, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  15. evan

    Excellent choice, Mr. President.

    June 5, 2013 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  16. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    I have a question for conservatives who say Ms. Rice lied about the Benghazi attacks. Can you please explain how Ms. Rice lied? And YES, the attack on the Benghazi consulate WAS indeed releated to the islamic web video. Don't believe it? Then please explain WHY there were protests in Egypt and every other Arab/Islamic/Muslim country on 9/11/12? And why did protesters stormed the U.S. consulate in Egypt and in every protesting country? WHY? And what were they protesting then? Can you please explain WHAT they were protesting? Can you?

    June 5, 2013 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  17. Rudy NYC

    Bill from GA

    From the article:
    "...will take Rice's spot as U.S. ambassador"

    Shouldn't that be UN Ambassador??
    -------------------
    No, it's short for U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. Your way would mean she works for the U.N.

    June 5, 2013 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  18. julnor

    The person who was given talking points on Benghazi and sent out to tell bold face lies to the American people is now going to advise the President on national security. Will someone be giving her talking points for this job? Can the President really believe what she says?

    June 5, 2013 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  19. Dave

    She did her job of going to national TV morning shows for a week to lie to the American public about Benghazi, and thus will be rewarded by this Admin for a loyalty and actions.

    June 5, 2013 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  20. Dan

    Think, some are missing the point here. The president knows what is right for us. The media and opposition are just slowing him down. Times are different now and he needs people in the administration who do not disagree with his plans and just tell the public what it needs to know. The news organizations had their place at one time, but have to now step aside and let our president decide what is best for us. We don't need to know the details.

    June 5, 2013 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  21. J

    More evidence that the WH is out of control. Now Rice the liar is heading security advise for the dictator???

    June 5, 2013 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  22. Dave

    @Dan

    Think, some are missing the point here. The president knows what is right for us. The media and opposition are just slowing him down. Times are different now and he needs people in the administration who do not disagree with his plans and just tell the public what it needs to know. The news organizations had their place at one time, but have to now step aside and let our president decide what is best for us. We don't need to know the details.
    -------------------------------------------–

    So when did this change? Right after Bush (or a republican) is not in Office? Does it change back in 2016, when a republican is elected president?

    June 5, 2013 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  23. Phaerisee

    The President understands that Americans are asking why the GOP is shouting "Benghazi" over and over while ignoring everything else and focusing on their primary challenges within their own party. The appointment of Rice will just increase that rabidity and give Americans a clear choice, just like in the last election.

    June 5, 2013 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  24. Name Uche Agonsi

    whatever ugly brandings the Repubs & their supporters could unleash on Rice, Susan has never failed the Americans on her duties at the UN. Infact she showed great discipline in modern diplomatic manoeuvres that earned US unequalled respect from the world since thee time of Henry Kissinger. She deserves America respect rather than castigation.

    June 5, 2013 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  25. Reality Check

    Rudy...not sure what AMERICA WON with this GOTCHA...but that is a big part of your problem...you objectiveness has diminished to looking through political glasses...Dont confuse Politics with Patriotism!!!!By Obama doing this, he has just FURTHER alienated himself...this doesnt help America, it just hurts us all..

    ------------
    Rudy NYC

    Reality Check wrote:

    I dont get it...97 GOP Congressmen wrote to Obama NOT to nominate Rice...yet he does...then he says he wants to work with Republicans...I can see a WHOLE lot of nothing coming out of this WH and Congress.
    ------
    Well we don't get it, either. The letter was written opposing her appointment to the Sec'y of State. You're conflating that post with another one. Do you really think that non-conservatives are that dumb not to see through that?

    "Nice try, but we gotcha."

    June 5, 2013 11:57 am at 11:57 am |

    June 5, 2013 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
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