President Obama on Wednesday will announce National Security Adviser Tom Donilon is stepping down and that United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice — a lightning rod in conservative circles — is replacing him, according to a White House official.
From the Rose Garden Wednesday afternoon, Obama will also name Samantha Power as Rice’s replacement, the White House official said. Donilon will leave his post in early July.
Rice was the leading contender to replace former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton but withdrew her name from consideration amid GOP backlash to her characterization of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya. Rice claimed the strike on the U.S. consulate was caused by a spontaneous protest to an anti-Islam video — an assertion that was swiftly debunked — rather than orchestrated by terrorists.
Rice’s new assignment is viewed as a consolation prize after being denied the nation’s top diplomatic post. And it doesn’t require Senate confirmation. However, it will give Republicans a fresh opportunity to criticize Rice and refocus on the Obama administration’s handling of the Benghazi terrorist attacks.
Rice has long been assumed to take over for Donilon, considering her ties to the president and Obama’s eagerness to stand up for his close confidant.
Power was senior director for multilateral affairs and human rights on the National Security Council during Obama’s first term.
The president will make the personnel announcements at 2:15 p.m. in the Rose Garden.