Palace intrigue

Melania Trump publicly demands firing of top White House official

First lady Melania Trump at the Elysee Palace on the eve of the commemoration ceremony for Armistice Day, 100 years after the end of the First World War, in Paris, France, November 10, 2018. (REUTERS/Carlos Barria)

First lady Melania Trump publicly called for her the dismissal of husband’s deputy national security adviser, a stunning move that aims to oust one of the top-ranking women in the Trump White House who has been in the job for less than a year.

“It is the position of the Office of the First Lady that she no longer deserves the honor of serving in this White House,” Melania Trump’s spokesperson, Stephanie Grisham, said in a statement released Tuesday afternoon referring to Mira Ricardel, who was appointed in April as National Security Adviser John Bolton’s top deputy. The statement came in response to a report by The Wall Street Journal that revealed the first lady has been seeking behind the scenes to oust Ricardel.

That statement was released moments after Ricardel had taken part in a celebration of the Indian holiday Diwali at the White House. She was seen standing behind President Donald Trump and smiling, seemingly unaware of the impending public attack by the first lady.

Since moving into the White House, Melania Trump has been one of the most low-profile first ladies in recent memory, and the effort to oust Ricardel is a sharp departure from her usual understated approach to the job. Incidentally, Melania Trump’s public demand for Ricardel’s firing came on World Kindness Day, an occasion the first lady marked by posting photos on Twitter alongside the hashtag for her #BeBest campaign.

White House Deputy National Security Advisor Mira Ricardel appears with U.S. President Donald Trump at a Diwali ceremony as the office of first lady Melania Trump announced a request from the first lady that Ricardel be fired at the White House in Washington, U.S. November 13, 2018. (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Ricardel is a longtime Washington insider. According to CNN, she’s held posts in the departments of State, Defense and Commerce for three Republican administrations. She also served as an aide to Republican Bob Dole when he was a member of the U.S. Senate. Reicardel also has private sector experience, including a stint at Boeing. She joined Trump’s presidential transition team as a Pentagon adviser before being tapped by Bolton to be his deputy.

According to reports, the first lady’s dissatisfaction with Ricardel stemmed from a dispute between the two surrounding Melania Trump’s trip to Africa last month. The Associated Press reported that an anonymous White House official said Ricardel sought to join the first lady on the journey but was not offered a seat on the plane the first lady was flying on. The official said Ricardel responded by threatening to not send any NSC staff on the trip at all. Since then, CNN reported, she has continued to clash with the East Wing and some in the White House have accused her of being dishonest about what happened and leaking stories to the press to distract from the dispute.

President Trump has reportedly not yet publicly fired Ricardel, but her dismissal is expected to be part of a larger White House shakeup that could see Trump’s chief of staff, John Kelly, sent packing along with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. Melania Trump has said publicly in the past that there are people on the president’s staff that she does not trust, but she did not name any names.

For more on the story, watch the video below.

Read the full story at The Associated Press and CNN

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