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

    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.
    Wow, just wow! You can say that after Bush?! Condi Rice admitted she didn't know the difference between Sunni and Shia. "Heckofa job Brownie" was the line after the Katrina disaster. Don't even go to the people we put in place to run Iraq.
    Blindness and delusion, they name be GOP.

    June 5, 2013 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  2. DC Johnny


    I think it's pretty clear which one of us is the bigot, after reading your blind vent that essentially characterizes any opponent of a woman intimately involved in a scandal as somehow racist and misogynist.

    And while we're critiquing one another, I'll add that you are also a buffoon with no sense of punctuation, grammar, spelling, or the capability of complex thought.

    Did I "hit a nerve", Pete?

    June 5, 2013 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  3. Jc

    I don't see what disqualifies her. SOS is a stretch for her experience level, but NSA isn't a bad spot for her. The Benghazi thing is a joke. She spoke based on what was provided to her. As a conservative I have zero problem with her in this position.

    June 5, 2013 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  4. Etta Mae

    Nothing this President does passes muster for republicans. This is just getting more and more bizarre by the minute. There was a time in this country when the office of the President was given the highest respect by Congress as well as the common man. You didn't have to agree with his policies, but you nevertheless kept a civil tongue in your head. These posts are more a reflection of how far our society has fallen than it is a critique on this administration's policies.

    June 5, 2013 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  5. rs

    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.
    And the GOP and trolls like Issa STILL have zero for proof on this assertion. Remeber- this one made Romney look like an idiot in the second debate.

    June 5, 2013 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  6. Guest

    you can't make this stuff up. unbelievable. NO ethics left in this admin.

    June 5, 2013 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  7. lottie

    this is great. The repos will have their shorts in a bunch over this move. Tough. ! This is one tough lady.

    June 5, 2013 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  8. Geordie

    This is the most arrogant and incompetent administration , when will Americans wake up and realize that they have been duped by an inexperienced community organizer and his Chicago mobsters.
    Politics and policies have been taken over by extreme left and right zealots without any regard for the well being of the American people . It is time you stand up and speak up.!!!!

    June 5, 2013 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  9. roger

    This is Obama's way of taking care of the problem. He puts them in other departments and then waits for them to mess things up there. How about firing them?

    June 5, 2013 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  10. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Congressman Chaffetz of Utah said judgement is key to national security matters. That alone should disqualify Susan Rice from her appointment. Gee, who were President, Defense Secretary and National Security Advisor when our nation was attacked on 9/11/01 Mr. Chaffetz?

    June 5, 2013 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  11. spinolio

    If her past performance is a measure... we will NOT be secure. It's all misdirection.

    June 5, 2013 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  12. Joey

    Republicans and republican supporters put so much support behind assumptions and opinions. State some facts Backed up by credible sources. Your opinions on an individual mean nothing

    June 5, 2013 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  13. Freedom Storm

    Tyranny has appointed itself as the new author of the dictionary, changing at will the definition of select words. Here are some examples.

    justice: the word "blind" has been redacted

    transparency: see secrecy; see privacy; see obfuscation

    patriotism: devotion to socialist tyranny

    obfuscation: this word has been removed from this book ... which is, come to think of it, a rather good definition of the word

    "None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free."
    -- Goethe

    June 5, 2013 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  14. wade

    CNN how can you place this story here? I has to be on the front page and where people can make comments . This is the most disgusting dis respectful thing Obama has ever done.It is proof he is a low life scum. This woman lied to America lied to the world and now he wants to do this. She will never make it through the conformation process. She Political ticker shows you always no matter what try to protect Obama.

    June 5, 2013 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  15. JoeP

    If anything goes wrong, we can just blame a youtube video.

    June 5, 2013 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  16. SalMoanella

    Incompetence and criminality get you promoted in this failed, anti-American administration.

    June 5, 2013 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  17. ShawnDH

    Obviously, Rice did absolutely nothing wrong in the BENGHAAAAZI!!!! non-scandal and she deserves this promotion. She is incredibly smart and good at her job. That right-wing heads will explode is just a bonus!

    June 5, 2013 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  18. ice9load

    Instead of bringing in new voices Obama is just circling the wagons. That nonsense about intelligent people prefer to be challenged is just nonsense.

    June 5, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  19. wow

    Disgusting! She should be the new ambassador in Benghazi that would be Karmic justice... Clearly Obama thinks he can do anything and get away with it.

    June 5, 2013 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  20. John

    It is a fact that Susan Rice lied. Obama himself said that he knew that it was not the video with this statement:

    "The day after it happened I acknowledged that this was an act of terrorism." -Obama May 13, 2013

    Yet, despite his claim that he knew on the September 12th, he allowed Rice to go on TV on the 16th to blame the video.

    Whether or not she knew that she was lying is questionable, but if she didn't know, then why didn't Obama make some attempt to stop her or correct her statements at the time? Either he was letting her go out and lie for him then , or HE is lying now.

    June 5, 2013 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  21. Brandi

    This administration is shameful. And the saddest thing is I was a sheep and believed in the Hope & Change BS they were bleating!! Obama and his thugs need to be pushed out!! By Americans, both Democratic and Republicans....not forgetting the Independents too. The constitution has been trampled on numerous times.....shameful.

    June 5, 2013 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  22. Thinker

    Don't let facts get in the way of being a complete idiot. She was a spokesperson. She was provided the information by the CIA. She was also providing preliminary information. At least she wasn't sitting around reading "my pet goat", like someone else did on another 9/11. To attack her for the accuracy was another demonstration of how the republicans would rather harm this country, then to move it ahead.

    June 5, 2013 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  23. DH

    Amen Pete!!!
    The Repubs are desperate. They have no plan for this country now or in the future which is why they will continue to lose now and into the future.

    June 5, 2013 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  24. Rudy NYC

    I read some of the comments opposing Rice's selection, and have to shake my head at the stupidity in them. The right wing convinced itself that the Benghazi assassinations was something that they could blame on Pres. Obama, and thereby dust the Democrats in the November elections. This entire Benghazi circus is a microcosm of what's wrong with Republicans.

    The strategy didn't work as planned. Republicans lost ground in the elections, and they couldn't take the White House. Republicans screamed Benghazi while Pres. Obama spoke about jobs and taxes. So what went wrong?

    According to conservatives, The People were just not listening and the message was somehow muddled. Fools. The message was clear. It was the messengers who were muddled and addle brained. And, the Republicans are still beating this dead horse. "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again." They're too blinded by self arrogance and loathing that they cannot even connect with reality anymore.

    History will look back and say that the Republican Party died in November 2012, and was replaced by the Tea Party.

    June 5, 2013 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  25. Monomachos

    @ 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.

    And you forgot to mention that the talking points provided by the CIA were heavily edited by the WH and the State Department, of which Ms Rice was a part, and which were disavowed by the Director of the CIA, which are also facts. Ms Rice was high enough in the department to be informed of the changes.

    June 5, 2013 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
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