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Shakeup: Susan Rice To Be Obama's National Security Adviser

Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the U.N.
Mark Garten / U.N.
UPI /Landov
Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the U.N.

United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice, a lightning rod for Republican critics of the Obama administration's handling of the September 2012 attack on a U.S. outpost in Benghazi, Libya, is moving into the post of national security adviser at the White House.

That's what a White House official tells NPR's Ari Shapiro — echoing reports earlier Wednesday morning from The Associated Press and other news outlets.

The current national security adviser, Tom Donilon, is resigning, according to CBS News and other news organizations.

The New York Times says the move of Rice to the White House is "a defiant gesture to Republicans who harshly criticized Ms. Rice for presenting an erroneous account of the deadly attacks on the American mission in Benghazi, Libya. The post of national security adviser, while powerful, does not require Senate confirmation."

Rice had been a leading contender to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state. But Rice withdrew her name from consideration last December, saying that "If nominated, I am now convinced that the confirmation process would be lengthy, disruptive and costly" to the administration.

The attack in Benghazi led to the deaths of the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans.

Donilon, the Times notes, has been a "central member of Mr. Obama's foreign-policy team since he first took office. ... But Mr. Donilon has also hit a rough patch recently, with the publication of an unflattering profile in Foreign Policy magazine that cast him as a sharp-elbowed infighter and a domineering boss, who had strained relationships with colleagues, including his former deputy, Denis R. McDonough, now the White House chief of staff. Mr. Donilon and Mr. McDonough, however, both denied those reports."

Donilon is expected to depart in early July. The president's announcement about Rice's appointment is expected to happen later Wednesday. The president is also expected to announce who he will nominate to replace Rice at the U.N. According to what a White House official tells NPR's Mara Liasson, the president plans to name long-time adviser and aide Samantha Power.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.