In extraordinary intervention, US first lady Melania Trump calls for firing of Mira Ricardel, deputy national security adviser
- Mira Ricardel reportedly clashed with members of the first lady’s staff over seating on a plane during Melania Trump’s recent trip to Africa
- The US first lady’s office says Ricardel ‘no longer deserves the honour of serving in this White House’
Donald Trump’s deputy national security adviser is reportedly set to be fired following a dispute with the first lady, Melania Trump.
The US first lady took the extraordinary step of publicly pushing for the move against Mira Ricardel, the top aide to the National Security Adviser John Bolton, on Tuesday.
“It is the position of the Office of the First Lady that [Ricardel] no longer deserves the honour of serving in this White House,” Stephanie Grisham, the first lady’s communications director, said in a statement.
It marked a rare intervention on personnel matters by Melania Trump, who has otherwise maintained a relatively low profile as first lady.
Ricardel, who was hired in April by Bolton after he assumed the role of Trump’s national security adviser, reportedly clashed with members of the first lady’s staff over seating on a plane during Melania Trump’s recent trip to Africa.
The East Wing staff have reportedly complained that Ricardel feuded with them over the use of national security council resources.
Ricardel also shared a contentious rapport with White House chief of staff John Kelly and US Defence Secretary James Mattis.
Pentagon officials have said privately they believe Ricardel had a hand in spreading rumours this year about Mattis falling from favour with the White House and perhaps departing.
A senior Trump administration official speaking on condition of anonymity said that Ricardel remained at the White House on Tuesday.
She was pictured standing close to Trump earlier in the day at a White House event to belatedly mark Diwali.
Melania Trump is of the most private first ladies in recent memory, which made the public announcement about her displeasure with a top West Wing official all the more surprising.
In an interview with ABC News during the five-day trip to Ghana, Mali, Kenya and Egypt last month, the first lady said there are people in the White House whom she and the president cannot trust.
She declined to name anyone but said she had let the president know who they are.
“Well,” she said, “some people, they don’t work there anymore.”
Asked if some untrustworthy people still worked in the White House, Trump replied: “Yes”.
Ricardel’s possible exit comes as the Trump administration is bracing for a potentially major shake-up following last week’s midterm elections, which began with the firing of the Attorney General Jeff Sessions .
The president was reportedly considering replacements for Kelly and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.
Reports surfaced late on Monday that Trump was preparing to remove Nielsen, a close ally of Kelly’s with whom the president has grown frustrated over immigration enforcement.
The Washington Post reported on Monday that Nielsen’s departure, although not yet finalised, was imminent.
Tyler Houlton, a DHS spokesman, sought to downplay the rumours, stating: “The secretary is honoured to lead the men and women of DHS and is committed to implementing the president’s security-focused agenda to protect Americans from all threats and will continue to do so.”
Ricardel, who previously worked in the commerce department, has been an integral part of Bolton’s efforts to restructure the NSC.
Bolton, one of Ricardel’s only remaining allies in the administration, was travelling in Asia with US Vice-President Mike Pence on Tuesday.
Additional reporting by Associated Press