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. Randy, San Francisco

    Republicans and Tea Partiers can complain all they want since the appointment doesn't require Senate confirmation. Republicans put politics before what is good for the country.

    June 5, 2013 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  2. ratherbboating

    So when the phone rings at 2am, she going to answer it? Then go a talk show circuit to say it was Bush's fault over a video he made?

    June 5, 2013 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  3. BrianMemphis

    Well can't fix stupid. She was totally discredited over Benghazi but hey, being legit doesn't mean a darn thing to this administration.

    June 5, 2013 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  4. Lynda/Minnesota

    Oops. My last post had an error. I mistakenly included Donilon in my "because they are women" rant. Obviously, I mistated his "manhood" qualifications.

    June 5, 2013 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  5. vasechek

    this is her reward for doing such a nice job on benghazi... lying and incompetence is not only unpunished, it's rewarded in this administration. or is it only when it's sanctioned from the top?

    June 5, 2013 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  6. Jesse

    Does anyone smell another incident of a dempolmat dying over seas?

    June 5, 2013 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  7. ST

    Congratulations Susan Rice, you have suffered a lot especially during Benghazi issue. People were strangling you while you didn't do anything wrong. Let people like Jason Chaffetz hang themselves or bury their heads in the sand, if they wish to. The President of United State of America has appointed you and honored you, you should take this privilege appointment with your head up and pride.

    June 5, 2013 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  8. GoneToPot

    Rice as the National Security Advisor, just gets more stupid in this administration.

    June 5, 2013 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  9. nuclear mike

    This does nothing to imede the impeachment from progressing....remember it took a year to bring down King Nixon...

    June 5, 2013 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  10. mysimru

    This country is in real trouble!!!!!

    June 5, 2013 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  11. Jordan

    I feel safer already... Yeah, not so much.

    June 5, 2013 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  12. sonnie3

    Anybody remember Bagdad Bob?
    He spewed lies just like Susan Rice.

    Everybody knew that both of them were out of their league and were preforming for the commanders in an unjustified manner. To find someone in government that won't lie for political gain is close to impossible. Shame on Them.

    June 5, 2013 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  13. 60minuteman

    Susan Rice as National Security Advisor? McCain & that limp repub from SC will just be up in arms about this.

    June 5, 2013 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  14. ThatsRight

    I completely agree with Jason Chaffetz.

    June 5, 2013 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  15. Name willard

    Rice is get out of her job at nation security alright

    June 5, 2013 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  16. Caumont

    Can you imagine if a Republican president rewarded a person for openly lying to the American public. Proof positive Obama has lost his ethical footing as POTUS in case anyone didn't know it already.

    June 5, 2013 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  17. Mark D

    One joke appointment after another. If it wasn't so funny, it would be sad. Peter principal applied to the max.

    June 5, 2013 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  18. Derek Kingston

    Goes to show its not what you know, it's who you know.

    June 5, 2013 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  19. Al

    Obama is a true crazy man out of control. Typical community organizer placing corrupt and impreshable jerks to lead our nation. Susan Rice??????? Please Obama do something else that will hinder your socialist agenda. We love it!!!

    June 5, 2013 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  20. Jay in NC

    I am just going to repeat what Jason Chaffetz said "Jugent is key to national security matters. That alone should disqualify Susan Rice from her appointment." However, I am sure that CNN will moderate this comment as well.

    June 5, 2013 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  21. Guest

    She's perfect because she will lie and lie with a straight face.

    June 5, 2013 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  22. Moderately Amused

    Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies
    SUBJECT: Transparency and Open Government

    My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government. We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government. BHO

    BAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHA!!! What a complete joke!!

    June 5, 2013 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  23. Downhillslide

    Ms. Rice's rapid climb to power is attributed to an amateur-made YouTube video.

    June 5, 2013 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  24. Ant

    Screw up to move up. Nice example of government at its finest

    June 5, 2013 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  25. Richard Long

    Beware all of you YouTube movie protestors, Susan Rice is on the job and she's going to get you!!!

    June 5, 2013 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
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