Obama Bids Farewell to Jones; Praise for Donilon
The announcement has been made: President Obama appeared in the Rose Garden this afternoon, flanked by resigning National Security Adviser James Jones and his successor, deputy NSA Tom Donilon, and bid farewell to Jones after his two years of service in the White House.
"The American people owe Jim an unbelievable debt of gratitude for his lifetime of service," Obama said.
"Through these challenges," in the first two years of the administration, Obama said, "Jim has always been a steady voice in Situation Room sessions, daily briefings, and with meetings with foreign leaders, while also representing our country abroad with allies and participants in every region of the world."
Jones will leave his post by the end of the month, the president announced.
Obama also praised Jones's successor and current deputy, Tom Donilon, who has previously worked for Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Joe Biden and served as chief of staff to Secretary of State Warren Christopher.
Obama referred to Donilon as "one of my closest advisers," noting that his well-regarded energy and work ethic depend on "seemingly limitless quantities of Diet Coke."
Donilon has "won the respect and admiration of his colleagues in the White House and across the administration," Obama said.
The president wasn't the only one to praise Donilon in the Rose Garden: After Obama finished speaking, Jones stepped to the podium to offer thanks to those he's worked with and to vouch for Donilon's capabilities.
In the recently published book "Obama's Wars," Bob Woodward reports that Jones didn't want Donilon to succeed him, and the book contains instances where Jones criticized Donilon. Jones seemed heartfelt in his praise for Donilon this afternoon.
"None of these achievements could have been possible without my teammate and friend Tom Donilon," Jones said. "Tom has been an extraordinary ally. He's been one of the hardest working human beings I have ever seen."
Jones said he could only offer Donilon one piece of advice for his new job: that Donilon "finds himself a deputy just like he was to me."