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Obama to roll out national security team Monday

  • Story Highlights
  • President-elect Barack Obama to unveil national security team Monday morning
  • Press conference to be held in Chicago around 10:40 a.m. ET
  • President-elect expected to name Hillary Clinton as secretary of state
  • Obama to keep Robert Gates as defense secretary, sources say
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From Ed Henry and Ed Hornick
CNN
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(CNN) -- President-elect Barack Obama will announce his national security team -- including Sen. Hillary Clinton as secretary of state -- at an event Monday morning, according to two officials.

The Obama transition team announced Sunday that Obama will unveil the full team at a press conference in Chicago, Illinois, around 10:40 a.m. ET.

CNN and CNN.com will carry the event live.

The officials said Obama is also expected to finally confirm that he is keeping Defense Secretary Robert Gates in his current post. Obama plans to name retired Marine Gen. Jim Jones as his national security adviser at the White House, the officials said.

Also, two sources close to the transition said Obama will nominate Susan Rice as United Nations ambassador; Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano as homeland security secretary; and Eric Holder as attorney general. Video Watch: CNN's Ed Henry discusses the security team »

The officials said that after much contemplation, Jones has privately indicated in the last few days that he plans to take the job as national security adviser. But a source close to Jones said he still has to have one more private meeting Sunday that will finalize the decision one way or the other.

CNN has previously reported Clinton and Gates are on track for the State and Defense posts.

"There's a lot of people in Washington that feel relieved. These are known quantities, they've been around for a while," said CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider on CNN's "Late Edition Sunday." "And there's criticism. Some on the left say, 'Wait a minute -- we voted for change.'"

Last week, Obama pushed back against criticism that his Cabinet picks failed to reflect the change he called for during the election.

"What we are going to do is combine experience with fresh thinking. But understand ... the vision for change comes first and foremost ... from me. That's my job," he said.

Amy Walter, editor-in-chief of National Journal's "The Hotline," said Sunday that there's the "vision and there's the managing, which is who is getting out front, who is actually setting the pace. I think you'll see Obama keeping his team in line, keeping them on the same page."

All of the selections are people who have been mentioned often during weeks of fevered speculation about the likely nominees. In fact, retiring Republican Sen. John Warner, a veteran member of the Armed Services Committee, released a statement Saturday night praising all three nominees, even before they had been officially announced at Monday's planned rollout. Video Watch why some think Gates shouldn't stay »

"The triumvirate of Gates, Clinton and Jones to lead Obama's 'national security team' instills great confidence at home and abroad; and, further strengthens the growing respect for the President-elect's courage and ability to exercise sound judgment in selecting the 'best and the brightest' to implement our nation's security policies," Warner said.

To some, the choice demonstrates bipartisanship and conveys that Obama has the self-confidence in his leadership abilities to keep one of the more widely respected members of the Bush administration. iReport.com: What do you think of Obama's cabinet picks?

"We've got confidence, continuity, and I still think the mission to get out of [Iraq] as soon as possible will be accomplished. So I think it's a great choice," Democratic Rep. Charles Rangel told CNN's "Larry King Live" last week.

Others say keeping Gates could delay the change that Obama promised during his campaign, because it could lead to potential policy conflicts over missile defense funding and a speedy Iraq pullout.

"If we don't have good civilian personnel alongside our good military personnel, we're not going to reform. It can't happen. You need the right people to make it work," former Pentagon comptroller Dov Zakheim said.

The president-elect has made no secret of his interest in having divergent views within his Cabinet, and Gates has served in various national security roles under Republican presidents, including CIA director during former President George H.W. Bush's administration.

As for Clinton, some observers have raised concerns about her husband, former President Bill Clinton, and suggested that his international business dealings, global foundation and penchant for going off script could present a significant obstacle for the incoming commander-in-chief.

"These are issues that I'm sure are being discussed, and they will have to be worked out, and it's legitimate to ask these questions," said James Carville, a former aide to the Clintons and CNN contributor.

Obama's transition team was given access to Bill Clinton's finances and post-presidential dealings, sources said. As part of the early vetting process, the team looked for any negative information that could jeopardize the prospect of Hillary Clinton as secretary of state.

A particular issue of concern, observers said, was the donor list of Bill Clinton's global foundation, which might show connections to international figures who push policies that could conflict with those of the new Obama administration.

Since exiting the Oval Office eight years ago, Clinton has reportedly raised more than $500 million for the foundation, a significant portion of which financed the construction of his presidential library. The foundation has also doled out millions for AIDS relief in Africa and other charitable causes around the world.

Amid repeated criticism from Sen. Clinton's primary opponents, Bill Clinton would not reveal the extent of the foundation's donor list earlier this year. But The New York Times has reported the list includes some foreign governments, including members of the Saudi royal family, the king of Morocco, a fund connected to the United Arab Emirates, and the governments of Kuwait and Qatar.

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The former president has also reportedly solicited funds from international business figures connected to human rights abuses that his wife has criticized, including the governments of Kazakhstan and China.

During the New York senator's White House bid, critics repeatedly said that foreign governments and business executives could try to exert influence through donations to the foundation, which prompted a pledge from the former president to publicly disclose all future donors.

CNN senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre contributed to this report.

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