Executing the administration’s shift to a stronger focus on Asia in its foreign policy has been one of Donilon’s primary policy initiatives; his resignation is timed to follow the summit meeting he helped organize between Obama and China’s President Xi Jinping this weekend.
Rice has long been among Obama’s most trusted foreign policy advisers, and her move from the United Nations has been expected since she withdrew her name from consideration as secretary of state late last year.
Rice withdrew amid criticism of her role in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya, which killed four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.
Republicans on Capitol Hill accused Rice of misleading the public over the nature of the attack in an attempt to protect Obama from criticism during a difficult reelection campaign.
The Senate does not need to confirm her as national security adviser.
The news of Donilon’s resignation was first reported by the New York Times.
White House officials said Obama will nominate Samantha Power to replace Rice at the United Nations. Power, who won a Pulitzer Prize for her book “A Problem From Hell,” about the U.S. response to genocide, served as a senior director for multilateral affairs and human rights on the National Security Council during Obama’s first term and the start of his second.
Her much-anticipated nomination to become ambassador to the United Nations will require Senate confirmation.