June 5th, 2013
07:16 AM ET
10 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. Bill

    This is Obama thanking her for her cover up.

    June 5, 2013 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  2. clakjak

    Are you kidding me. Chicago politics at it's finest. Obama just keeps showing time after time its all about cronyism.

    June 5, 2013 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  3. Just a thought

    Why is the least popular, and most no nothing party of fools weighing in on these decisions? What does the girly talking Jasmine Chaffetz know about National Security, has that idiot ever been outside of Utah and dated anybody other than his neighbor's pet sheep? And McCain otherwise pictured with a kidnapper hasn't the slightest clue about anything. He ran on National Sec. in 2008 against President Obama and lost that argument by landslide. Get off the stage grandpa

    June 5, 2013 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  4. Makes Sense

    It makes perfect sense! Obama would prefer to have Rice in the post. Her incompetence is something he can relate to!

    June 5, 2013 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  5. Government waste rules

    Rice doesn't know the difference between a terrorist attack and a spontaneous protest but sure, make her the National Security Advisor, why not?

    June 5, 2013 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  6. Austin Lamon

    Wow, the shuffling of incompetence. His whole staff needs an overhaul, not a "reshuffling". These power hungry and overconfident women are much more concerned with their personal careers and winning favor from Obama than they are with issues concerning National Security. I live and work in DC, and this White House operates like a middle school classroom, everyone is passing information under the table, clicks and alliances continue to form, and they cast blame and responsibility towards one person after they are identified as a possible scapegoat. It occurred in Fast and Furious and now in Benghazi, IRS, and the foul play involving the press in leak investigations. They are so concerned with their own image and reputation that they have lost sight of America's responsibilities and interests abroad. Nothing we haven't seen before.

    “…they (Athenian politicians) allowed private ambitions and private interests, in matters quite foreign to the war, lead them into projects unjust both to themselves and to their allies-projects whose success would only conduce to the honor and advantage of private persons, and whose failure entailed certain disaster on the country.” – Thucydides, Peloponnesian War

    June 5, 2013 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  7. Abbey

    National security is the last thing on the President's mind. This is clearly a political vendetta coming from petty and small thinking leader. Of course he doesn't need to run again for office so what does he care?

    June 5, 2013 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  8. Brad

    its nice to see Rice back in the game, she is a great asset and exceptional competent, I hated to see the Right Wing Slime Team end her career.

    June 5, 2013 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  9. Just a thought

    The party of the vapid, vaccuous and worst elements of racism in this country is now speaking up once again, reminding us how much they DO NOT know about anything. Great....guess we'd better listen this time – NOT

    June 5, 2013 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  10. Monomachos

    This way she will be in a position to help edit future misleading talking points instead of just repeating them.

    June 5, 2013 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  11. Rick McDaniel

    She now gets pay back from Obama, for going out and lying to the world, knowingly, about Benghazi.

    June 5, 2013 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  12. northerstar

    The White House is rewarding Susan Rice because she went on all the Sunday morning talk shows an mislead the country, either knowingly or unknowly. Several people in the administration knew that what she was saying on all the shows was incorrect at worst and premature at best. The Head of the CIA stated that he never believed the attack on Benghazi was a demonstration that got out of control. What was the RUSH to get Rice on the morning talk shows (other than the election). Why did no one stop Susan Rice before or during her going from show to show (it had to take several hours for her to do all the shows) when they realized what nonsense she was using as so called "talking points". Surely if we can detect a foreign missle attack and respond in minutes; we can stop someone that represents the Administration from doing the Sunday morning talk shows and misleading the American public. If we cannot find the UN Ambassador while doing Sunday morning talk shows there is something wrong with her security detail. There has to be a better choice than Susan Rice.

    June 5, 2013 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  13. Thomas

    Samantha Power's will do a great job , so will Rice ..

    The GOP is going to snivel about it .

    June 5, 2013 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  14. nomad2003

    have to reward those who took one for the dem party... going on all the TV news show and spouting the misinformation given to her.

    June 5, 2013 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  15. jimmyva18

    Guess 0 likes to keep liars in his staffing positions. Look no further than his Press Secretary. Despicable.

    June 5, 2013 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  16. marc

    And they say lying never pays.

    June 5, 2013 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  17. Patrick

    Nothing is more valueable to you than a staffer that is willing to set aside their own personal credibility as long as it makes you look good.

    June 5, 2013 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  18. CJB

    So the lesson learned is that you lie for the prez – you get a promotion. The corruption in this administration is shocking.

    June 5, 2013 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  19. bigdoglv

    Best job to be had without a confirmation hearing.

    June 5, 2013 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  20. Joey

    This article lacks credibility due to the obvious withholding of a crucial part of this story. The article does not state that Susan Rice was only providing information based on talking points that were provided to her by the CIA. That is a key fact of the story that many people exclude in order to jade her professional reputation. If you write an article, state the facts. Opinions are secondary.

    June 5, 2013 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  21. bjjschecter

    Looks like he was going to get Rice in some position or other no matter what.

    June 5, 2013 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  22. openyoureyes

    Apparently it's a good thing to be "well off and well connected." Seems that even the most incompetant idiots get promoted in this administration. Could it be a case of ....you scratch my back (promote the video) and I'll scratch you back (promate you to a new position0? What a crock!

    June 5, 2013 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  23. Pete

    People don't like Susan Rice and undeniably so because of her intelligent straight forward manner ignorent republicans like most here feel threatened by her,did I hit a nerve ignorent,bigotted ones you supposid conservatives..Or should we go back to the likes of Condi Rice or Rumsfield two liars,con artists that did whatever legal or not their headmaster required of them in selling lies about Iraq,WMDs to start a war or selling sarin gas to the likes of Kadafi,Hussein to use on their own people,genecide and nothing done to Reagan,remember that delushional actor who thought he was more a king than president because of alzheimers,dementia,I do!!Susan Rice isn't guilty of anything that hasn't been done before and forgot by conservatives much like the antics of Issa years ago stealing cars and burning buildings to get insurance monies..Or McCain and his S&L scam that cost billions years ago in the KEATING 5 ,remember that you supposid patriotic republicans or do you conveniently forget because you're in so much denile its painful because there's so much corruption both ethicly and otherwise that your party shouldn't be allowed to exist...Just some facts I've shoved in your faces to bring you back to reality because you think you're above it all and supposidly sanctumonious as well!!Just remember karma folks what goes around comes around and you can't escape your partys political past because we won't let you,plain and simple hypocrites!!

    June 5, 2013 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  24. smc

    Condoleezza "Mushroom Cloud" Rice seemed to have no problem advancing to Secretary of State, despite her statements leading to what would become the deaths of more than 100,000 people.

    Yet, we're all caught up in a few errant statements Susan Rice made on one particular day after 4 people were already dead and denied her the possibility of becoming Secretary of State.

    BTW, Susan Rice apologized for the error. Condoleezza Rice, to this day, still stands behind her absurd mushroom cloud talking points.

    June 5, 2013 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  25. Deathstalker74

    Amazing how those who carry out Obama's lies are all rewarded. First it was Victoria Nuland, who scripted the Benghazi revisions to include bogus info about a YouTube video and now it's Susan Rice, who was the amplifier of that very lie. But you can't argue that Obama's not being transparent because I've yet to witness a President more transparently arrogant and tone deaf in my lifetime. He now represents everything wrong with Washington and our political system. The guy who was supposed to be the great uniter has in fact turned out to be the most divisive President of all time.

    June 5, 2013 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
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