In a big shake-up of the President's inner circle (and a big thumb in the eye of Senate Republicans) National Security Adviser Tom Donilon is resigning his post ... and it's going to Susan Rice. The New York Times reports that Barack Obama will announce the change to his foreign policy team on Wednesday afternoon, just two days before he meets with the president of China in California. (And just as it was predicted by The Washington Post back in March.)
Rice, the current U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, had the been the president's pick to be Secretary of State, but her nomination was scuttled earlier this year by Republican opposition after she became embroiled in the controversy over the attack on Benghazi. She withdrew from consideration when it became clear that the Senators John McCain and Linsdey Graham (among others) would block her her nomination and the post went to John Kerry. However, her new job puts her in position that is arguably more influential, giving her the President's ear on almost daily basis and advising him on issues that go beyond mere diplomacy. What makes the appointment even more satisfying for her (and galling to her critics) is that the National Security Adviser does not require Senate approval.
Donilon was Obama's first deputy National Security Adviser before being bumped up to the senior position in 2010 and is a life-long Washington insider. He had planned to leave at the end of the first term, but stayed on to help shepherd the President through a rough transition with the rest of his national security team, including the new secretaries of Defense and State, as well as a new CIA director. His is resignation will take effect next month.
Several outlets are also reporting that Samantha Power, another sometimes controversial Obama adviser who has a big influence on his foreign policy philosophy, will take over Rice's position at the U.N. Power's 2008 book Chasing the Flame is about a famous U.N. diplomat, Sergio Vieira de Mello, who was killed in a bombing while working to help rebuild Iraq.
In his announcement introducing Rice, Obama calls her a "consummate public servant" and says he's "thrilled that she'll back at my side." Comparing her to her brother, who Obama sometimes plays basketball with, the President says, "It runs in the family; throwing the occasional elbow, but also hitting the big shot."