Susan Rice is former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. (Evaristo Sa / AFP)
President Obama will appoint United Nations ambassador Susan Rice as his new national security adviser, replacing Tom Donilon, officials said Wednesday.
Obama also plans to nominate former National Security Council aide Samantha Power to replace Rice as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
Obama considered Rice for Secretary of State late last year but appointed John Kerry instead, in part because of controversy surrounding the Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi, Libya.
White House officials confirmed the appointment on the condition she not be named, so as not to preempt Obama’s formal announcement later Wednesday.
Rice is a long-time associate of the president, working as foreign policy adviser during his 2008 campaign.
Senate Republicans had threatened to block Rice’s nomination to the State Department, but the national security adviser’s job does not require Senate confirmation.
The job switch comes as Obama prepares for a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping; Donilon was in Beijing recently preparing for the meeting.
Officials said Donilon is expected to stay on the job until July, working with Obama on planned trips to Europe and Africa.
Donilon’s retirement has been expected sometime this year, and Rice has long been considered the top candidate for his replacement.
Republicans investigating Benghazi have criticized Rice over television interviews she gave five days after the attack, attributing it to protests over an anti-Islam film. After the administration later called it a pre-planned terrorist attack, GOP members accused Rice and others of an attempted cover-up.
Rice said she discussed the attack based on the evidence known at the time, while Obama and aides accused the Republicans of partisanship.
In a Nov. 14 news conference, Obama said that Rice has done “exemplary work” at the U.N.
“She has represented the United States and our interests in the United Nations with skill and professionalism and toughness and grace,” Obama said.
The job of ambassador to the United Nations does require Senate confirmation.
In nominating Power for that post, Obama picked a former campaign aide and author who specialized in genocide and human rights. In addition to her work on the National Security Council, Power chaired the Atrocities Prevention Board that Obama created in 2012.
David Jackson writes for USA TODAY.