WASHINGTON—Several weeks of scandals have kept President Barack Obama on defense and threatened to derail his second term agenda. Now he’s going on offense.
Obama effectively poked Republicans in the eye on Wednesday with the announcement that national security adviser Tom Donilon is resigning and Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice will replace him.
Many Republicans believe it’s Rice who should have resigned: She was the official the Obama administration dispatched to Sunday talk shows to say the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, were the result of spontaneous protests. But demonstrations over an anti-Islam YouTube video never occurred in Libya, and internal emails revealed in recent weeks show that the administration knew it.
Obama will also nominate Samantha Power, a National Security Council official, to replace Rice at the United Nations, pending Senate approval. While the national security adviser holds significant power, the position does not require Senate confirmation.
The appointments of Rice and Power come a day after the president made three controversial appointments to a powerful Washington, D.C., appeals court—which produced four of the current U.S. Supreme Court justices. The GOP has vowed to fight the nominations.
Rice, 48, was thought to be a frontrunner to replace former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but her controversial Benghazi comments caused her to withdraw her name from consideration. President Obama has maintained staunch public support for Rice.
Tom Donilon, whose resignation takes effect in July, has been the national security adviser since 2010.