Trump aide departs West Wing after first lady rebuke
Washington – Deputy national security adviser Mira Ricardel is leaving the White House, one day after first lady Melania Trump’s office issued an extraordinary statement calling for her dismissal.
No replacement was named. Aides said Ricardel clashed with the first lady’s staff over her visit to Africa last month. Yet it is highly unusual for a first lady or her office to weigh in on personnel matters, especially the president’s national security staff.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Ricardel will have a new role in the administration.
On Tuesday, Stephanie Grisham, the first lady’s spokeswoman, released a statement saying: “It is the position of the Office of the First Lady that she no longer deserves the honor of serving in this White House.”
President Donald Trump’s White House has set records for administration turnover. Ricardel was the third person to hold the post under Trump.
An ally of national security adviser John Bolton, Ricardel began her service in the Trump administration as associate director in the White House Office of Presidential Personnel, then moved to the Commerce Department last year.
Bolton brought her into the West Wing shortly after taking the job in April. He is traveling in Asia this week alongside Vice President Mike Pence.
The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that the first lady’s staff and Ricardel had clashed during Mrs. Trump’s visit to Africa in October over such things as seating on the airplane and requests to use the council’s resources.
Ricardel also is known to have clashed with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis over Pentagon political appointee choices since early in his tenure. And Pentagon officials have said privately they believe Ricardel had a hand in spreading rumors this year about Mattis falling from favor with the White House and perhaps departing.
Meanwhile, President Trump is weighing an administration-wide shake-up as he looks to prepare his White House for divided government, but it is unclear who is going and who is staying.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was thought to be out as soon as this week, according to two people with knowledge of the issue, but she is now likely to remain in the post for a longer period because there is no obvious successor.