Obama Details National Security Personal Changes

The president announces that Susan Rice will become his next national security adviser.
34:51 | 06/05/13

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Transcript for Obama Details National Security Personal Changes
This is a special report from me -- Hello everyone I'm Tanya Rivero in new York and this is an ABC news digital special report. New term new team at the White House a bit of a shake up today as President Obama says goodbye to national security advisor Tom Donnelly and appoints former UN ambassador Susan -- to take his job. And introduces of foreign policy aide Samantha Power as the nominee to replace rice. We are joined now by ABC's Mary Bruce was at the White House hi there -- have been the latter for Susan Rice isn't it has had a rough year. That is absolutely -- that's right this. Big shake up here at the White House the president deciding to name's Susan Rice as his national security advisor that comes just six months after she removed her name from the running to be secretary of state. As she faced a firestorm of criticism from Republicans for her handling -- the the deadly attacks of being Ghazi -- post but the president has long defended Susan -- rice -- -- done so publicly. And today he's doing that again by naming her his national security advisor shall replace Tom Donnelly and and also as you mentioned Samantha Power will be coming into replace -- being named to replace Susan Rice at the UN ambassador to the UN. Now unlike excuse me don't. SRS does he tells a little bit more about Samantha power and she had quite a career before joining the Obama campaign that. That's right that's -- to resume includes that working as a journalist a professor of foreign policy advisor she's a Pulitzer Prize winner. She perhaps might best be known though for her role during the Obama campaign -- she left that decision after calling Hillary Clinton a monster and public. But she's -- certainly at familiar face here at the White House and now. She's -- nominees to be the replacement for Susan Rice is the UN ambassador and Tom -- on his way out now what is his. The legacy and what does his departure mean for national security policy. Police has done a lot here -- that the EU White House -- within the administration to focus more attention on the on the Asian Pacific. That's something that he'll again play a role in now with the president -- appears to -- with the Chinese president this week Tom -- will continue in his position through the end of the month. He still has had a couple more weeks in the position before Susan Rice takes over and what has the Republican response -- to Susan -- getting the job. Paternity mention Republicans really creating quite a firestorm around Susan Rice -- is originally named as a possible. A replacement for secretary of state Hillary Clinton -- But there -- they've -- so I don't there's -- releasing -- from Senator McCain said he's disappointed with. The naming of Susan Rice to fill this position but he's going to try his best to work with her. But we should say that unlike some other positions around -- treated as a doesn't require senate confirmation so Republicans have no say whether or not she takes on this -- to Atlanta. Senator McCain -- that out in a letter just a little while ago. That's this could be a reward so to speak for all the -- Susan Rice took on and -- thing. It's seen as a reward I think it's certainly a defiant defense of about the president's belief in Maine Susan Rice -- belief in her credibility. And her experience and her ability really to do this job and to join this inner circle within his administration she -- -- -- at his side as he forms a Smart policy and here's the president. They accompanied by ambassador seasoned rice mr. Tom O'Donnell and and -- Samantha Power. Thank you. You everybody thank you. Well good afternoon. It is a beautiful day and it's good to see so many friends -- Of all the jobs and government. Leaving my national security team. Is certainly one of the most demanding if not be most men and since the moment I took office. I've counted on the exceptional experience. And insights. Tom -- Nearly every day for the past several years I've started each morning way Tom Lehman presidential daily brief. Hundreds of times sweeping assessment of global developments. And most pressing challenges. As my national security advisor to his portfolio is literally. The entire world. She's definitely advanced our strategic foreign policy initiatives and wall at the same time -- -- respond to unexpected crises and that. Happens just about every day. He's overseen and coordinated our entire national security team across the government. A herculean task and it's nonstop. 24 sevenths 365. Days a year. Today. I am wistful to announce that after more than four years of extraordinary service. Tom has decided to step aside at the beginning of July. And I. And extraordinarily proud to announce my new national security advisor are outstanding ambassador to the United Nations Susan -- As well. As -- my nominee to replace Susan in New York. Samantha Power. Now what I. I first asked Tom join my team I knew I was getting one of our nation's premier foreign policy leaders somebody with a deep sense of history. And a keen understanding of our nation's place in the world. You share my view that in order -- American leadership for the 21 century we had to fundamentally rebalance. Our foreign policy. And more than that he knew how we could do it. See -- that rare combination of the strategic and tactical -- he as a strategic sense of where we need to go and he has tactical sense of how to get there. Moreover Tom's work ethic is legendary. He began his public service in the Carter White House when he was just 22 years old. And somehow he has been able to maintain the same drive and the same stamina in the same enthusiasm. And reverence four serving in government. He's helped shape every single national -- policy of my presidency. From forging a new national security strategy rooted in our economic strength here at home to ending the war in Iraq. Here the White House Tom oversaw the operation that led us to bin -- He's helped keep our transition on track as we wind down the war in Afghanistan. The same time Tom has played a critical role as we bolstered. The enduring pillars of American power and strengthening our alliances from Europe to Asia. Enhancing our relationship with key powers and moving ahead -- new trade agreements and energy partnerships. And for mark tough sanctions on Iran to -- unprecedented military and intelligence -- cooperation with Israel it's true. From new start would Russia. To deeper partnerships -- emerging powers like India to stronger ties with the gulf states Tom has been instrumental every step of the way. I'm especially appreciative to Tom for helping us -- new American leadership in the Asia Pacific. We're so much of our future security and prosperity. Will be shaped. He's worked tirelessly to forge a constructive relationship with China that advances our interests and our values. And I'm grateful that Tom will be joining. Me -- -- meet with president -- of China this week. And finally Tom I'm personally grateful for your advice. For your counsel and most of all for your friendship. Whenever we sit down together whether it's in the Oval Office or the situation room. I do so knowing that you have led a rigorous process to you challenge assumptions the -- -- tough questions. That -- led an incredibly hard working national security staff. And presented me with a range of options to advance our national interest. The president can -- for many anything more than that and this is. A testament to your incredible professionalism. But also your deep -- country. I know that this relentless pace has meant sacrifices for your family. For Kathy who's here doctor Biden's a former chief was staff who I was proud to nominate as our new global ambassador for women. And for Tom and -- is wonderful children Sarah and Teddy. So today I want to publicly thank all the dumb ones for. They're abiding commitment. To public service that it runs through the family. -- every step of the way. These past four years the American people -- you an enormous debt of gratitude for everything that you've done. You've helped to restore -- nation's. A prestige. And standing in the world you position us well to continue to believe in the years ahead. I think the Tom -- has been one most effective national security advisors our country. Has ever had and and he's done so without a lot of fanfare lot of fuss. So Tom on behalf assault thank you for extraordinary service. Now I am proud of this work will be carried on by another. Exemplary public servant. -- masters whose rights. Susan -- they trusted advisor during my first campaign for president. She helped to build my foreign policy team and lead our diplomacy at the United Nations in my first term. I -- absolutely thrilled -- drove it shall be back at my side leaving my national security team in my second term. Whether background as a scholar Susan understands that there's no substitute. For American leadership. She is at once passionate and pragmatic. -- -- understand Susan is a fierce champion for justice and human dignity. How much is also mindful that we have to exercise our power wisely and deliberately. Having served on the National Security Council staff -- -- she knows how to bring people together around a common policy. And then push it through to completion of the were making a difference where it matters most. Here in the country that we pledged to defend and in the daily lives of people were trying to help around the world. Having served as an assistant secretary of state she knows our policies are stronger when we harness the views and talents of people across government. So -- the consummate public servant -- patriot who puts their country first she is fearless she is tough. She has a great tennis game and a pretty good basketball game. Her -- hear what -- with occasionally and it runs in the family -- on the occasional elbow but it. But in the big shot. As our ambassador to the UN Susan has been a tireless. Advocate in advancing our interests she's reinvigorated American diplomacy in New York. She's helped to put in place tough sanctions on Iran and North Korea she is defended Israel -- -- stood up for innocent civilians from Libya to -- more. She supported an independent south Sudan issues raised her voice for human rights including women's rights. Put simply Susan exemplifies the finest tradition -- American diplomacy and leadership so thank you Susan for being want to take on this next assignment. I'm absolutely confident they're gonna hit the ground running. And I know that after years of commuting. To New York wall. By taking the national security advisors. Normally I'd be worried about losing such extraordinary person up with the United Nations and believe. Try to figure out are we ever gonna replace or. But fortunately I am confident we've got -- -- experience defective and energetic UN ambassador in waiting in Samantha -- Samantha first came to work for me in 2005. Shortly after I became a United States senator. As one of our country's leading journalists. I think she won the Pulitzer prizes -- -- age of fifteen or sixteen. One of our foremost thinkers on foreign policy. She showed us that the international community has a moral responsibility any profound interest in resolving conflicts and defending. Human dignity. As a senior member my national security team she's been a relentless advocate. For American interests and values building partnerships on behalf of democracy and human rights. Fighting the scourge of anti semitism in combat during combating. -- human trafficking. To those who care deeply about America's engagement and indispensable leadership in the world you'll find no stronger advocate for that cause then Samantha. And over the last four years -- worked hand in glove with Susan in her role. Because Samantha has been the -- White House staffer on issues related to the United Nations. And I'm fully confident she'll be ready on day one to lead our mission in New York while continuing to be an indispensable member of my national security team. She knows the UN strengths she knows its weaknesses she knows that American. Interest -- advance when we can rally the world's worst side. And she knows that we have to stand up for the things that we believe. And to ensure that we have to principled leadership we need -- the United Nations I wouldn't strongly urge the senate to confirm her without delay. So Samantha thank you two -- And you and and and -- and -- for continuing to serve our country. This team of people has. Been extraordinarily dedicated tumor. They have made America safer. There have made. America's values live in quarters of the world that. Are crying out for our support her leadership. I could not be prouder of these three individuals. Not only their intelligence. Not only their savvy. But their integrity in their heart. And I'm very very proud to have the privilege of working with Tom. Very proud that -- -- continue to have the privilege of working with Samantha. And with Susan so -- bet I'd invite Tom to say a -- works. -- Thank you Mr. President you know Bob. He mentioned the many hours that we've worked together in the situation room would not put together here by John Kennedy without windows. No we're not no windows so I would first like to thank you for this rare opportunity to be outside and experience the natural life. He also mentioned how I began my public service here -- -- President Carter in 1977. -- -- two years old. And I still remember leaving at the end of the day. Walking up west executive drive past the office of -- national security -- -- -- -- And looking up at the windows of the White House the light's always on into the -- office no matter how late and I think to myself. Don't those guys ever go home. And now these many years later finally have the answer no they don't go home very much at least as often -- early to spouses and families would like. Mr. President to serve in this capacity where we've had the opportunity to protect and defend the United States to improve the position the United States in the world. Has been the privilege of a lifetime. -- -- during your presidency however assert during one defining moments in our nation's history this is because of your vision. Your principal leadership your commitment to defending our interest -- pulling our ideals. Those many hours of meetings and briefings and give me the opportunity to see you -- few people do. Behind closed doors away from the cameras. When a leader's character is revealed in with your permission. I'd like to take this opportunity to share a little bit of what I've seen. First I've seen you make the most difficult decisions -- commander in chief to make. The decision to send our men and women in uniform in harm's way. I've -- the great care with which you have -- these great decisions next senior devotion to the families of our men and women in uniform. I have senior fierce patriotism. Pure love of our country. When confronted with competing agendas and interest you always -- the discussion back to one question what's in the national interest what's best for America. -- senior abiding commitment to the core values that define us as Americans our constitution. Civil liberties the rule of law. Time and time again he reminded us that our decisions must stand up to the judgment of history. Finally mr. present next scene he represent the United States around the world what you mean the people around the world and to represent our country. When you step -- that plane with the words United States of America. When you reach out to foreign audiences to speak to the basic aspirations we -- human beings Houston the clear message that America wants to be their partner and that ability to connect. To forge new bonds in the fourth is a form of American power and influence the advocates aren't just -- -- as well. To Vice President Biden and -- -- the united city -- dear friends for more than thirty years and it's been an honor to make this journey with you. To my colleagues and friends here at the White House across the government the American people never truly know how hard. You work and their defense. To my longtime partners and that in the senior leadership of the National Security Council. Denis McDonough John Brennan Tony Blake and Lisa Monaco. Mike from and then from -- -- and Brian Killen. I could not ask for better Brothers or sisters in this effort. Do you and all -- remarkable national security staff. -- national treasure and every day you get -- you come here you -- -- days to keep their country secure. You are the best our nation has to offer has been an honor and privilege to serve -- these and everyone again -- many. And to my friends and colleagues Susan and Sam. Congratulations. The nation is fortunate to have leaders of your intellect. Compassion. Character and determination. Susan you've been outstanding national security advisors a -- you -- outstanding ambassador United Nations. And we really appreciate your willingness to do. Finally and most importantly to -- -- there and Teddy. Mr. President said this job as an entry sacrificed for you. And he should -- -- always made a contribution to the country and -- could not be more grateful. So you Mr. President thank you for the opportunity extraordinary opportunity to serve. Q and to serve our nation. You know I stand here. 36 years ago almost to the day when I first came on the eighteen acres of the White House to come to work. And I I must. Tell you I I leave this position. Much less cynical. And never more optimistic about our country -- future. Thank you very much. This president. Thank you so much. I am deeply honored. And humbled. To serve our country. As your national security advisor. I'm proud of worked so closely with -- for more than six years. Deeply grateful for your enduring confidence. -- -- As you've outlined we have -- opportunities to seize. An ongoing challenges to confront. We have much still to accomplish. On behalf of the American people. And I look forward. To continuing to serve. On your national security team to keep our nation's strong. And safe. Tom. It's been a real honor. To work with you again. You have -- with great dedication and smarts. And skill. And you leave a legacy of enormous. Accomplishment. All of us around the principles table. We'll miss you. And I wish you and Kathy and your family. All the very best. Above all I want to thank my own wonderful family for there unfailing support. My mother Lois. My wonderful husband Ian. Are children JQ and that's. And my brother John. Have all -- my strength. And my greatest source of humor. I'm also thinking today about my late father who would have loved to be here. And forever grateful. To my family. For their love and sacrifice. Want to thank right remarkable colleagues. That the US mission. The United Nations. I am so proud. Of the work we've done together. Under your leadership Mr. President. To advance America's interests. At the United Nations. And Samantha. My friend warmest congratulations. Your tremendous colleague and the United States will be extremely. Well serviced by your leadership. At the United Nations and I'm so glad we get to continue to work together. Mr. President. Having participated. In the national security decision making process. Over the last four years. I admire the exemplary work done every day. By our colleagues and state. Defense. The intelligence community. And across the government. To make our nation. More secure. I look forward to working closely with you for your extraordinary. National security team. Our country's most experienced leaders. From both parties. And -- superb. National security staff. To protect the United States. Advance. Our global leadership. And promote the values. Americans hold dear. Thank you very much. Thank you Mr. President. From the day I met you and you told me that you had a sense. Chunk of your vacation. Reading a long dark book on genocide. I knew you were different kind of leader. And I knew I wanted to work for you. It has been my privilege here at the White House to serve you and it would be the honor of a lifetime to fight for American values and interests that the United Nations. Now that I have two small children Jacqueline and -- somewhere. The stakes feel even higher. Thank you Tom and Susan. I consider myself immensely fortunate these last four years to have collaborated with both -- you. There are two no more dedicated professionals on this earth. No more strategic stewards of our foreign policy than these two individuals and I'm honored and immensely humbled to share the stage with the -- I moved to the United States from Ireland when -- with my parents who -- here. When I was nine years old. I remember very little about landing in Pittsburgh. Except that I was sure I was at the largest airport in the history of the world. I do remember what I was wearing. A red white and blue stars and stripes teacher. It was the teacher I always worked in Ireland on special occasions. Even as a little girl with a thick Dublin accent had never been to America. I knew that the American flag was a symbol of fortune and a freedom. But I quickly came to learn -- to find opportunity in this country. When didn't actually need to Wear the flag again. When just needed to try to live up to him. For the next three months I came home from school every day -- my molecular -- like that can attest. And I sat in front of the mirrors for hours straining to drop my broke -- that I too could quickly. Speak and be American. Not long ago my husband -- and Steen who came across a letter written toward the end of World War II by his father -- -- It was a navy lieutenant. Dick had happened to stop briefly in San Francisco. After his two years fighting for this country in the Pacific. And he wrote to his family on April 25 1940 -- The very day that the nations of the world were coming together in San Francisco. To establish the new United Nations. And in this letter to my mother in law. Who -- never had a chance to meet he wrote excitedly. Conference starts today the town is going wild with excitement. It is a pleasure to be here for the opening few days. Let's pray that they accomplish something. Let's pray that they accomplish something. The question of what the United Nations can accomplish for the world and for the United States remains -- one. I have seen UN aid workers in during shell fire to deliver food to the people of Sudan. Yet I've also seen UN peacekeepers fail to protect the people of Bosnia. As the most powerful and inspiring country on this earth we have a critical role to play in insisting that the institution. Meet the necessities of our time. He can do so only with American leadership. It would be -- incomparable privilege. To earn the support of the senate. And to play a role in this -- effort. One on which our common security and common humanity depends. Thank you. Thank you ever -- -- -- a White House. President Obama lock up -- Second term team -- by the national security advisor Tom -- and former UN ambassador Susan Rice takes his job and foreign policy aide Samantha Power replaces rice. Joining us now for some insights to all of this -- ABC news political director Rick Klein in Washington high direct. Hi good to see -- so Rick let's start at the top -- on -- is on his way out some whispers that maybe he didn't have the best relationship with the president's chief of staff Denis McDonough. Anything tenacity. McDonough is a former -- deputy but they have clashed and it -- been documented even in some reporting -- come out the last couple of weeks. -- is someone who is always prided himself on his direct relationship with the president of course the chief of staff also has a direct relationship with the president so there is a little palace intrigue there. The debate is not on -- really was that he hadn't taken an active policy advising role. During his time in there he was very keen on giving their daily presidential briefing wasn't necessarily keen on guiding the president's -- legacy will be. I think his legacy is going to be able some big successes like the bin Laden raid that was very much under his purview. I think also though the you have to you have to count or any of those assessments with things that have lingered on his watch that the situation right now in Syria. So on one level we've had eight of relatively successful time in terms of keeping the country -- On another level of the attack and -- Ghazi so it's definitely a mixed record and I think the Obama record in general it is something that's it is going to be tied -- record. All right let's talk a little at about Susan Rice now of course. Grilled by Republicans for months now -- statements about -- got the attack can we assume that most Republicans aren't too thrilled with -- appointment. Yes you can assume that you can also -- -- they can do about it because this isn't a job on like secretary of state. That requires senate confirmation so we've already seen John McCain a harsh critic of Susan Rice during evening -- affair saying. He's disappointed in the -- but of course he's going to work with their. Wherever possible this is a White House appointment -- important to keep in mind here this is an advisor just to the president this doesn't have a larger policy role this isn't representing UN interest. As her as her current job is and it is certainly isn't like -- secretary of state role. As I think been in a lot of ways this is a reward for a long time loyalists someone who's been very close of the president. Since -- -- his presidential campaign. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- That's definitely the case and in going back to the campaign she was -- -- just getting -- his freshman senator. Who came straight out of the state legislature in Illinois up to speed on big national security issues. -- right not what Samantha Power Pulitzer Prize winning scholar anti genocide activist. Really superstar RG also though made some headlines during those testy Obama Clinton primaries. What should people know about her. Well first of also on the heels of residency with 32 not fifteen or sixteen the president's -- and -- still very very young no question about it. She was a journalist who started hurt her career in journalism. And and -- is a -- written several books a lot of them about genocide she is a scholar of that subject. Born in Ireland and sign on with the Obama campaign. Very early on again as part of that circle of advisors in the comments she made. To an overseas newspaper where she referred to Hillary Clinton has a quote monster in what she thought was an off the record setting. Colored the rest of her either that -- -- -- for the rest of her time. During that campaign and beyond the widespread view was that there was no way that she could be appointed to a -- -- the State Department. Or even in the president's cabinet the UN and he liked that as long as Hillary Clinton was also in the cabinets the fact that Hillary Clinton has moved on I think is that not coincidental that back to -- the -- -- are moving up. No coincidence -- they think -- no burying the hatchet between Samantha Power Hillary Clinton. I think certain -- -- wet weather whatever the relationship is between the two principal certainly the circles around them still harbor some some ill will toward toward that episode there are lots of apologies that went around she had to resign from the campaign back in the spring of 2008. And she's -- -- wanted to serving in in various roles inside the administration and she still has sterling credentials and so many ways. IE I'm imagine that's the kind of thing that gets brought up during comp time confirmation hearing just because you -- of everything confirmation hearings. But I don't know that that's necessarily something that that Republicans or Democrats -- -- -- -- to his being disqualified and he's very likely to be appointed crack crack. I would think that's right and -- will see how this is how this is received but the UN ambassadors -- important -- is important -- to represent. The administration I think -- the general stance usually is toward confirmation. Lester something disqualifying that someone has done that something that really ignite -- firestorm. You'll certainly get some scrutiny for positions and I think -- should be asked a lot of questions or confirmation hearings about the situation in Syria when you see so many civilians were dying. Given what she is written about humanitarian intervention about genocide. I have to think that's going to be a major topic for discussion. Yes absolutely and you heard -- they're criticizing the UN in Bosnia -- mean she's clearly coming in knowing that there's a lot of work that needs to be definitely interesting to see what kind of work. She decides to pursue separate what do all of these changes along with bringing in John Kerry to run -- State Department say about the administration's foreign policy plan. Well a couple of points in terms of the team there was a lot me during the Obama first term about the so called team of rivals Hillary Clinton. Foremost among them this is a team of loyalists these are people that have been with the president for very long time this is an odd sort of shake up because rather than going outside bringing in new voices it's really inside. He's been spreading some new voices around. But I do think it has some real impact I mentioned Syria I think that's one area that people are really be testing out to sea where Samantha Power Susan Rice come down. And this is an area within both of those women have been very tough rhetoric a kind of a more interventionist type of liberal policy than we've seen traditionally. Of people expected of him warrant -- that President Obama even in his first term from the -- this now with this is pressing crisis increase in Syria with mounting civilian casualties. I think that's gonna do it in that it has the potential -- -- the push policy along. Absolutely and -- and we expect any other additions to the national security or diplomatic team -- the roster announced that. -- -- -- the roster of the of the main players is -- we're gonna see a lot of lower new ambassadors it's sort of customary that. Particularly in in friendly nations that you. You shuffle things up after a term and find some new people to put in there are some friends and and supporters are -- as well its I think we'll see a raft of new ambassador -- -- caroling Kennedy among Manhattan bold face names are respected -- sent to Japan the -- a lot of those in the ensuing months but I think. The mean team seems to be in place for now. And ambassadorships always bring a little bits of whispers of discontent with them that they hadn't. And words of insider trading there right thing. That's right relatives and is -- nothing new about it -- now going on for centuries literally reason you reward supporters there. It's different in in the test the hot spots the places we have tense relationships but frankly a lot of places where we have friendly relationships like -- Japan say. They liked to have someone has a little this celebrity and is perceived as being close to the president's of -- cuts both way. Absolutely all right Rick -- in Washington thank you. Thank you have for more on the president's new appointments -- -- abcnews.com. I'm Tanya Rivero in New York in this have been an ABC news digital special reports. This has been a special report from me.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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