June 5th, 2013
07:16 AM ET
11 months 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. Two thumbs

    Obama has a real brain trust as his national security team...the brother of the president of ABC news and now Rice. Yes, we are in good hands.

    June 5, 2013 07:46 am at 7:46 am |
  2. Flossie T

    Way to go cnn. Gloss over it like its a typical day at the office.

    June 5, 2013 07:48 am at 7:48 am |
  3. Bill

    She should be a good one. She has already showed she will say whatever the administration tells her too. "Pay no attention the that terrorist behind the curtain. Nothing to see here".

    June 5, 2013 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
  4. jpmichigan

    Rewards by the Obama administration is greatly appreciated by those who comply to his wishes. Those groups or individuals that do not , and this administration is shown unable to beat are then demolished.(IRS scandal).

    June 5, 2013 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
  5. Thomas

    No matter who Obama picks, I am sure the GOP will be upset.

    June 5, 2013 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
  6. Jerry Hoefen

    Another great monent in history change always good ,rice is good everything

    June 5, 2013 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
  7. Tutuvabene

    I wish CNN would do away with the screaming "Breaking News" headline at the top of the page. When I first see it, I think thermo-nuclear war has broken out but when I read it I see it's only something as mundane as this.

    June 5, 2013 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
  8. Name LOL

    It's about to get fun.....
    Here comes 'Peace & Security' for those in Biblical know

    June 5, 2013 07:53 am at 7:53 am |
  9. toughtimes

    really? she has credibility – not!

    June 5, 2013 07:53 am at 7:53 am |
  10. meme

    Good selection, Ms Rice was treated wrongfully by stupid republicans in congress.

    June 5, 2013 07:53 am at 7:53 am |
  11. Jeanette Hearne

    Can can anyone in this country or any other believe anything she says. Why would the President continue to put these people in such important positions when they have been proven to have no credibility?

    June 5, 2013 07:55 am at 7:55 am |
  12. William

    I guess this will appease Rice so she won't squeal about who changed the talking points.

    June 5, 2013 07:55 am at 7:55 am |
  13. Bob

    Rice? You have got to be joking? Seriously, this must be some kind of White House prank. Ashton Kutcher would make a better National Security Advisor. How about Lady Gaga?

    June 5, 2013 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  14. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA aka Take Back the House aka No Redemption Votes

    The outrage from republicans is going to be heard to the heavens over this. But frankly, who gives a crap. Ms. Rice deserves an apology from those two senior republicans that sit on the Senate Armed Services Committee. They know who they are.

    June 5, 2013 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  15. Phil

    This is bad in so many ways.

    June 5, 2013 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  16. mdreader

    I am a fan of our President, but really????????

    June 5, 2013 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  17. AceGirlshusband

    Ah, too bad. I was hoping it was Condoleeza.

    June 5, 2013 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  18. Joe

    LMAO, this article is joking, right ?

    If she is not intellegent enough to question what happened in Benghazi, what is the strategy here to make he an advisor ?

    This administration is really setting the bar low for expectations and compentency.

    Too funny

    June 5, 2013 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  19. Tim

    So why is Donilon stepping down? That could be important.

    June 5, 2013 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  20. Darth Cheney

    Yea, Susan! Congratulations!

    June 5, 2013 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  21. Regularguy22

    Just what we need: A clueless stooge in a senior position

    June 5, 2013 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  22. michael cheng

    great.
    now we can win the war in Chicago!

    June 5, 2013 08:05 am at 8:05 am |
  23. king

    good for you mister president. the repubs going to go bananas now huh. they used Rice as a weapon against you to destroy your president election, lesson repubs it didn't work, because contrary to your party's popular sentiments, the American people do have a brain, and all of us is not gullible as you guys want us to be, i bet some of you old repubs guys are hating the social media explosion huh, because your Washington fake scandal is being picked apart like lettuce. i still want to know what the hell this woman did wrong, when she had a repub CIA chief, and a repub fbi chief telling her what to say to the public. did Obama told her what to say, i doubt that because he was running for president, and at that time the repubs were like hound dogs trying to sniff anything they could find to destroy his presidency. so good for you Rice you deserve it.

    June 5, 2013 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  24. Tutuvabene

    If it had been Condaleeza Rice as the appointee, that would have merited the "Breaking News" headline.

    June 5, 2013 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  25. FelineDivine

    Shouldn't Eric Holder be the one resigning?

    June 5, 2013 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
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