Like most First Ladies, Melania Trump has led a mostly quiet life in the White House, acting as a figurehead but rarely wading into actual governance. In a rare move, however, Melania Trump is seeking to oust Deputy National Security Adviser Mira Ricardel, who is a close ally of John Bolton.
The First Lady’s spokesperson, Stephanie Grisham sent a statement to numerous media outlets, stating: “It is the position of the Office of the First Lady that [Mira Ricardel] no longer deserves the honor of serving in this White House.” It’s rare, possibly unprecedented, for a First Lady to make such a bold move so publicly. Usually, these issues are handled quietly behind the scenes.
At the moment, reports are mixed. Some reports indicate that Ricardel has already been removed from the White House, having been escorted out by security. Other reports indicate that she’s still on the job but her firing is imminent, implying President Trump is just giving her a few days to clear out her desk. There’s always a chance that the president will buck his wife as well, keeping Ricardel on the job.
So what did Ricardel do to infuriate the First Lady? Some reports indicate that she clashed with Melania Trump directly. However, other sources indicate that she’s never actually met the First Lady, but instead has been berating and harassing her staff.
The central issue appears to be Melania Trump’s recent trip to Africa. Apparently, the First Lady felt that the National Security Council wasn’t providing enough resources. Issues over seating arrangements on the plane have also been mentioned.
Ricardel has also been accused of leaking stories to the press. Ricardel is known for having a “strong” personality and many within the Beltway consider her to be “obstinate.” She’s known for being hawkish and staunchly conservative. Apparently, she has vocally clashed with aides both above and below her rank in the White House, irking many staffers in the process.
Two of her biggest beefs appear to be with Secretary of Defense Jim “Mad Dog” Mattis and Chief of Staff John Kelly, both of whom are known for being among the Trump administration’s moderates. Some believe that Ricardel, possibly at the direction of John Bolton, has been leaking rumors of the supposedly imminent departures of Kelly and Mattis.
Ricardel apparently believes that Mattis is a “Democrat” and, early on in the administration, moved to block some of his appointments. Mattis returned the favor by blocking her from high-level positions at the Pentagon. Mattis has thus far survived the rumor mill and has stated that he’s not thinking about leaving and that he loves his job.
Mattis may stick around, but many believe that John Kelly may be on the way out. If Ricardel has indeed been spreading rumors of Kelly’s departure, she may have helped seal the retired general’s apparent fate. While Kelly was once among Trump’s favorites in the White House, he has since soured on the former general.
Trump is also preparing to fire Kirstjen Nielsen, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Nielsen is a close ally to Kelly, but Trump has become critical of her allegedly soft approach to illegal immigration.
On the whole, the White House appears to be set for a mass of firings and departures following the midterms. The warring factions within the Trump administration had adhered to a de facto truce during the election season. With that behind them, grievances and vendettas are reemerging. And it seems that the First Lady might be more involved than before.