White House national security adviser Thomas Donilon, principal deputy Denis McDonough and Benjamin Rhodes, deputy for strategic communications, are more likely than not to remain in place, at least initially, officials said.
Antony Blinken, Vice President Joe Biden’s national security adviser, is said to be under consideration for Rice’s job at the United Nations, as is Samantha Power, the National Security Council’s senior director for multilateral affairs and human rights.
It was unclear who would take Brennan’s job if he leaves government or moves to the CIA. He was the top contender to lead the agency when Obama was first elected in 2008, but he withdrew under criticism, which he deemed unfair, of his role in intelligence excesses under the administration of George W. Bush. Although that challenge is now seen as behind him, officials said he has not indicated whether he would like to be considered again to head the agency where he spent 25 years.
Beyond complicating the overhaul of the national security team, Petraeus’s departure will send ripples through management layers at the CIA.
Many had expected Petraeus to stay in place for Obama’s second term, and he had spent recent months planning transitions at other key posts at CIA headquarters. Now, four of the agency’s most critical positions — director, deputy director, head of the National Clandestine Service and chief of the Counterterrorism Center — have become question marks.
Within hours of Petraeus’s resignation Friday, his biography was excised from the CIA Web site and replaced with that of Morell.
Michael Vickers, undersecretary of defense for intelligence, also has been mentioned as a candidate for CIA director.
If Morell ends up permanently in the job, he will need to designate a new deputy and would be in charge of other pending personnel decisions that Petraeus had been poised to make.
The head of the clandestine service, John Bennett, was talked out of retirement to take that job and has signaled his intent to step down in the coming months, current and former officials said.
The top position in the Counterterrorism Center, which carries out the CIA’s drone campaign, is also expected to come open. The current director, known by his cover name ‘‘Roger,’’ has been in the job for more than six years. Former CIA officials said Roger has wanted to be named director of the clandestine service but has a reputation for harshness toward subordinates and had been expected to be passed over by Petraeus.
Morell was considered a standout analyst at the CIA before entering the agency’s upper ranks and is highly respected among his colleagues and at the White House. Obama, a White House official said, ‘‘has enormous trust in [Morell’s] ability to lead the CIA for as long as is necessary.’’ He is also considered a possible candidate to replace Brennan at the White House.