After scandal-hungry Republicans used the Benghazi terrorist attack to sink her chance to become secretary of state, Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., will finally get her chance to move into President Obama’s inner circle when he appoints her as his new National Security Adviser, according to published reports.
The New York Times broke the story that the president is on the verge of moving Rice into the post of his most trusted security adviser when Tom Donilon, the man who currently holds the job, resigns in the next month.
Obama is expected to announce the move at a news conference this afternoon. He will nominate Samantha Power, a National Security Council official who won a Pulitzer Prize for her book “A Problem From Hell” about the U.S. response to genocide, to replace Rice.
The Times characterized the elevation of Rice as a “defiant gesture” to Republicans, who had fought so hard to keep her out of the secretary of state post, blaming her for going on the Sunday morning talk shows last fall and presenting an erroneous account of the deadly attacks on the American mission in Benghazi, Libya.
But because the powerful post of national security adviser does not require Senate confirmation, the president can move one of his closest friends and confidants into the White House to advise him directly on national security, effectively thumbing his nose at Republicans.
Donilon, 58, has been a central member of Obama’s foreign policy team since he first took office, and he is seen as a powerful force in the White House, “exerting sweeping influence, mostly behind the scenes, on issues from counterterrorism to the reorientation of America to Asia from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq,” according to the Times.
Donilon is credited with arranging an unusual and important informal summit meeting between Obama and President Xi Jinping of China on Friday at an estate in Southern California.
“I don’t know when there was a broad meeting like this,” he said proudly in an interview with the Times. “For the last 40 years or so, these conversations have taken place in a more formal, scripted context.”
Donilon, whose departure is effective in early July, told the Times he had planned to leave after the first term but stayed longer, at Obama’s request, to break in the new team of Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and CIA Director John O. Brennan.
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