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. Tom Collins

    Hillarious!! Just goes to show how dysfunctional the current regime is...

    June 5, 2013 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  2. mkat2

    More incompetent 'hacks' reinforcing the 'Peter Principal' !

    June 5, 2013 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  3. Norma Vessels

    Susan Rice has my vote, too. If Hillary Clinton and President Obama sees in her, the right intelligence and hard work, that's good enough for me.

    June 5, 2013 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  4. zappo15

    Rice appointment is just another example showing that Obama is not qualified to be president. He wallows in mediocrity. Its too bad because he could have been great. Certainly had a lot of opportunities. Came out of a great academic environment. But unfortunately he is most comfortable with hacks.

    June 5, 2013 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  5. SPE106

    Nothing this president doesn't surprise me anymore

    June 5, 2013 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  6. Bobpitt

    General Clark is a much better candidate than Susan Rice and Samantha Power, combine..!!!
    The president should reconsider..

    June 5, 2013 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  7. Sam

    Nothing like Obama sticking it to the people with the appointment of Susan Rice. She obviously lied when she blamed the Bengazi failure & deaths of 4 Americans on an obscure video. Promoting her is divisive and Obama just doesn't give a damn what about 1/2 the country thinks. Sad really.

    June 5, 2013 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  8. Dave

    All the back story about his replacement is fine and good but why did Donilon resign?

    June 5, 2013 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  9. JJ

    No offense but HOW can we or our allies TRUST her?
    This president doesn't seem to pick people based on competency or experience but gender, color and political correctness.

    We're in deep trouble around the world and are being crushed with these internal scandals ; yet he remains clues

    He need to play more golf because history will NOT be kind to him but he doesn't seem too worried about that.

    June 5, 2013 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  10. JZ

    Wow, the President certainly has a set. What a huge "up yours" to his opponents and the citizens of the U.S. in general.

    June 5, 2013 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  11. Norma Vessels

    As far as the embassey attack goes .. the very day it happened, there was a loud protest going on, and then the attack happened at that time, too. The only intelligence that Susan Rice received was about the protest and the bombing going on about the same time. Meanwhile, our reporters were hammering the White House and everyone else, to give them something for their newspapers, right then and there. The reporters could not wait. Susan was told to let the reporters know what she knew at the time, at that moment. So, she did. That's all there is to that.

    June 5, 2013 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  12. seanster5977

    A sure sign your going to fast track in the Obama administration. If you lie and cover Barry's tracks you are due a nice big promotion.

    June 5, 2013 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  13. Anonymous

    Who else thought/hoped it was Condi?

    June 5, 2013 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  14. EdwardTr

    Why make a big deal of an appointment that will only benefit the republican side. He is paying her back obviously, but at what cost.

    June 5, 2013 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  15. Name willard

    I'm am strong belevie that rice aree liar her story at benghzain
    Kick out of afrcian amercian

    June 5, 2013 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  16. Howard

    When Jason Chaffetz is President (that'll be the day), he can use whatever criteria he wants in choosing HIS national security adviser and, like Obama, he won't have to pay any mind to people like Jason Chaffetz who don't understand that some things are better left unsaid.

    June 5, 2013 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  17. Darrell

    It's his choice, and since she knows where the skeletons are buried, it keeps her in line. Par for the course, fail miserably, get promoted.

    June 5, 2013 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  18. mikewj

    Hello Republicans. Susan Rice is NOT going away. Have a good day.

    June 5, 2013 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  19. Name willard

    Rice is really like little cool slaughter

    June 5, 2013 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  20. Fair is Fair

    She had to get the payoff for lying one way or another.

    June 5, 2013 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  21. Lynda/Minnesota

    "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."

    Come on. Don't be shy. Say what you really mean, Jessica. That they will be scrutinized more so because are women? That they will be scrutinized more so because President Obama chose them personally? That they aren't qualified? Or, simply that John McCain and his sidekick Lindsey Graham are going to have a conniption fit? I personally am sick to death of the innuendo, the obstruction, and the foolishness coming from the right. No doubt there are millions of others who are as upset as I am. It is especially upsetting when the media takes the ball and runs with the obstruction meme as if we Americans are playing some sort of "pay for view" fantasy game that doesn't concern or involve "real" people.

    This nonsense has got to stop. The sooner, the better.

    June 5, 2013 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  22. Jim

    Well you have to keep those that lie for you close, its hard to get a new trusted liar into your inner circle this late in the game...thats why Carney is still around

    June 5, 2013 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  23. Everett

    Good choice!

    June 5, 2013 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  24. Name willard

    Presdient obama get out of white house alright he will be fail next 4 year alright

    June 5, 2013 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  25. larry

    I guess this is Rice's reward for lying for Obama and Hilary.

    June 5, 2013 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
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