June 5th, 2013
07:16 AM ET
1 year 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. carlos

    without talking points, the ones posting here are completely LOST.......no rational thinking with toilet humor, if any.

    June 5, 2013 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  2. YUCK

    Poor president have been scrunized and ridiculed by the far right extremist,because of this the first amendment should be limited..freedom of speech should be limited for peaceful purposes.look at what's happening in Germany....PARDON FOR BEING OFF TOPIC HERE.

    June 5, 2013 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  3. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    @chris

    Total right wing garbage. The Bush administration was the most scandalous, corrupt and unethical administration in U.S. history and if you have really worked in positions you mentioned, you should know that. Please stop your right wing partisan garbage.

    Where were you when the Bush administration failed to protect and defend this nation from the 9/11 attacks? Where were you during the illegitimate invasion of Iraq? Where were you when Bush abandoned and prolonged the Afghan war to invade Iraq? Where were you when billions of dollars slated to rebuild Iraq disappeared? Where were you during Cheyney's no-bid contract deals for Iraq oil subsidies? Where weere you when billions of dollars of Iraq's historic and cultural artifacts went missing and were eventually sold off on the black market? Where were you during the disgrace at Abu Ahraid prison and during the debacle at Walter Reed Hospital?

    Where were you during the following:

    Bush NSA Warrantless Surveillance program in violation of the 4th Amendment
    The Bush White House E-mail scandal in violation of the 1978 Presidential Records Act and the 1939 Hatch Act
    The Libby federal trial and Bush clemency
    The 2007 dismissal of 8 U.S. Attorneys
    Predatory Lenders Partner in Crime – Housing and Financial crisis
    Bush's $2 trillion tax breaks for so-called job creators who did nothing but crashed the economy
    Bush's failed $1 trillion prescription program
    Bush's $700 Billion bailout that Wall Street banks payed off to their partying CEOs
    CIA Director George tenet briefed GWB and informed him that intelligence findings confirmed that Iraw possessed NO WMDs
    Violating international law by ejecting UN inspectors from Iraq while they were disarming the Iraqi military without bloodshed and lost of life
    Bush invaded a sovereign country during peace time to start a war

    June 5, 2013 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  4. Jason

    Any chance Obama would ever pick anyone with credibility for any position or office in his administration? He seems to go to the bottom of the barrel for most of his picks.

    June 5, 2013 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  5. NameFrank Deery

    As we saw with Rice's stupid remarks about
    Benghazi, she will "keep to the script" to placate her inept boss and keep her fat paycheck coming.

    This latest appointment(pay back???) just shows how out of touch Obama is with this nation: The ever-radicalizing of the Mideast,
    and moribound Congress. No leadership from him, just more fuel to irk Republicans, like me, who
    never bought this man and his do-nada, UK clad wife, whose own "attitude" (so old, so
    black radical! Every office in the US!) shows
    their election days are over. So, the "real" Obamas come out! But they went too far-with our Free Press!

    Let Biden do it-until 2016!

    now
    to begin with. Now, she has

    June 5, 2013 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  6. Tom L.

    He should change the slogan from "yes we can" to "because I can"

    June 5, 2013 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  7. Rocky Green

    Congratulations Ambassador Rice!! Glad the Rethugs can't bully you out of this position.

    June 5, 2013 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  8. Rudy NYC

    Bill from GA:

    Do you really believe there was/is such a need in Benghazi? I don't.

    Stevens last meeting was with representatives from Turkey. Might have something to do with arming Syrian rebels. They didn't tell me:)
    ---------------
    If Stevens was trying to get weapons in or out of Syria, then he was out of line. Makes good right wing fodder, though.

    Benghazi was the de facto capitol for the resistance against Khadaffi. The rebels had captured the coastal city early on, which is located in the eastern half the country. Benghazi is hundreds of miles from Tripoli, which is in the west. Furthermore, Benghazi is also where our esteemed Senator, John McCain, established ties and allies with the rebels. Remember?

    June 5, 2013 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  9. Name lynn

    Thats president obama when one person step down, you always have a ram in the bush. I mean not the former president bush like the bush in the bible.

    June 5, 2013 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  10. Tony D

    Replacing an incompetent leaker with an incompetent liar.... makes total sense. Just not for the well being of the country.

    June 5, 2013 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  11. RWB1956

    Watch Meet the Press and Face the Nation all the way thru when she appeared after attack and tell us she lied.

    June 5, 2013 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  12. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    Take that Guns Over People tea potty anklebiters with their hair on fire. No do nothing Congress to do your dirty work.
    The decision is final,DONE.She has the job. Get over it. Nobody listens to you.

    June 5, 2013 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  13. ThinkAgain

    @Rachel: "OMG, can it get any more pathetic. Is thst all they have to pick from. Kiss our Security goodbye."

    You're referring to Stephen Hadley, GW Bush's National Security Advisor (January 20, 2001 – January 26, 2005), right? You know, he was part of the team that ignored warnings about al Qaeda attacking us using planes? Who, along with the Bush team, ignored the Clinton transition team intel about bin Laden?

    Right?

    June 5, 2013 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  14. Rudy NYC

    Tom L. wrote on page 12:

    He should change the slogan from "yes we can" to "because I can"
    ----------------
    Hmm, you might be onto something there, guy. "Because We Could" then "Yes, He Should".

    June 5, 2013 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  15. Name Uche Agonsi

    Susan had a rare flawless reign as US UN Ambassador. Even the dirtiest of US foes adore her. Back home her unqualified respect & humility for her political haters are exemplary. In midst of unprecedented embarrassment & unsubstantiate falsehood against her name & image, she preferred to engage these haters with disciplined candour. She has a lot to teach American politics & of course a front runner among women political touch bearers. She should not be denied of any opportunity to excel.

    June 5, 2013 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  16. ThinkAgain

    "Just to reiterate – Either Rice was blatantly lying to protect the president strictly for election purposes, or she was grossly incompetent and proven a fool, for the same purpose."

    Or she was passing along the initial information she was given by the intelligence community, not wanting to accuse al Qaeda or any other terrorist organization until there was more concrete proof. From "The Wall Street Journal" publication of transcripts of Rice's appearance on the Sunday talk shows after the Benghazi attack:

    (ABC's "This Week"): it’s important to know that there’s an FBI investigation that has begun and will take some time to be completed. That will tell us with certainty what transpired.

    But our current best assessment, based on the information that we have at present, is that, in fact, what this began as, it was a spontaneous — not a premeditated — response to what had transpired in Cairo. In Cairo, as you know, a few hours earlier, there was a violent protest that was undertaken in reaction to this very offensive video that was disseminated.

    June 5, 2013 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  17. Donna

    Why doesn't Obama and Clinton just come clean on what they were doing while the people in Benghazi were fighting for their survival and dying? Why don't they tell us who gave the stand down order? Why don't they tell us why they kept denying these people the protection they were begging for for months? We don't need all these investigations, we just need honesty from them. Because they refuse to give us honesty, they get investigations which have to get the truth out in other ways.

    June 5, 2013 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  18. Rudy NYC

    Donna

    Why doesn't Obama and Clinton just come clean on what they were doing while the people in Benghazi were fighting for their survival and dying? Why don't they tell us who gave the stand down order? Why don't they tell us why they kept denying these people the protection they were begging for for months? We don't need all these investigations, we just need honesty from them. Because they refuse to give us honesty, they get investigations which have to get the truth out in other ways.
    -----------------
    Some words from the wise.
    1. Shouting "Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi" didn't win Republicans the election. Not after the public saw Mitt Romney on video tape stating that if a terrorist incident occurred, then Republicans should turn it to their political advantage.
    2. You will never find out the locations of the top members of the administration on the 9/11 anniversary. It would be a serious national security breach, and the poiliticians asking the question publicly know that it cannot be answered.
    3. We already know who gave the order to stand down. The guy testified before Congress that the head of the military forces in Tripoli made the decision to evacuate after he told them Stevens was missing, feared lost in a burning building.
    4. Security? Congress cut the State Dep't security budget by $450 million for 2012. The cuts were made over the objections and warnings of Sec'y Clinton before Congress. Big Clue. Issa isn't asking about security because he knows that the blame will lead straight back to the House Republicans, particularly the Tea Party Republicans.
    5. Buy a cat.

    June 5, 2013 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  19. Loyalright

    What good decision has Obama ever made? This is not a good choice but Rice will do anything and say anything that Obama wants. She will be the puppet that she was in the State Dept.

    June 5, 2013 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  20. Pete

    @Donna,Rudy didn't add that Issa,Chaffetz and his repub collegues almost unanimously voted for those defense cuts in 2010 and with more cuts being made this year and next as well..Donna its smarter in your case to shut up than to expose your ignorence which you've made apparently clear in your recent posts..Your hate overcomes your rational,so think before speaking and watch where you walk because with foot in mouth disease you better know where you stepped last!!

    June 5, 2013 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  21. tim

    time to retire john thanks for your service.

    June 6, 2013 02:48 am at 2:48 am |
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