Melania Trump (Getty/Brendan Smialowski)

Melania Trump pulls a power move, calls for firing of the president's top national security aide

"She no longer deserves the honor of serving in this White House," the first lady said of Mira Ricardel


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Shira Tarlo
November 13, 2018 9:43PM (UTC)

Mira Ricardel, the top deputy to national security adviser John Bolton, is being pushed out from the White House after first lady Melania Trump publicly called for her ousting in a blistering statement on Tuesday.

"It is the position of the Office of the First Lady that [Ricardel] no longer deserves the honor of serving in this White House," the first lady's communications director Stephanie Grisham said in the statement.

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The stunning move comes after reports surfaced earlier on Tuesday indicating that Trump has decided to remove Ricardel from her position, after less than seven months on the job, at the first lady's request. The first lady's staff reportedly clashed with Ricardel during a trip to Africa last month over plane seating and use of National Security Council resources. The East Wing reportedly told the president that they suspect Ricardel is responsible for negative stories about the first lady and her staff.

Ricardel had attended a White House event to celebrate Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, earlier on Tuesday with the president.

Ricardel's departure leaves national security adviser John Bolton without one of his vital allies in the West Wing. CNN reports that Ricardel had been key to Bolton's efforts to reshape the National Security Council and attempted to help him "secure his place as an influential adviser to the president on all foreign affairs matters."

Before her quarrel with the East Wing, Ricardel reportedly tussled repeatedly with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and his staff over Pentagon appointments.

Additionally, tensions have allegedly grown between Ricardel and Trump's chief of staff John Kelly, who is reportedly planning to leave his West Wing post in coming weeks, and his deputy Zach Fuentes. CNN reports that Kelly and Fuentes believe Ricardel is responsible for leaking negative stories about them to the press.

Ricardel's departure would be the third major White House shakeup following the midterm elections, in which Democrats seized control of the House of Representatives. Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions last week, and is reportedly planning on firing Kelly and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in the coming weeks.

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Additional high-profile firings are likely to come. Politico recently reported that five Cabinet officials are on the chopping block and likely to exit the administration after the 2018 midterm election cycle — Jeff Sessions, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Defense Secretary James Mattis, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. Vanity Fair also reported that Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin may also be eying the exit.

Back in June, CBS reported that press secretary Sarah Sanders was planning on leaving the White House by the end of the year as well. At the time, Sanders issued a statement in attempt to diffuse the speculation, but she never actually denied the reports that she’s planning on leaving 1600 Pennsylvania Ave soon.


Shira Tarlo

Contact Shira Tarlo at shira.tarlo@salon.com. Follow @shiratarlo.

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