Trump under pressure from Melania to fire top aide

Trump under pressure from Melania to fire top aide

Darren Sullivan
November 15, 2018

Social media users aren't quite sure what to make of the historically unprecedented news that the First Lady was trying to publicly call the shots on White House staffing policy amid reports that John Bolton aide Mira Ricardel would be fired after a spat with Melania Trump.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is also thought to have been marked, but she is now likely to remain in the post for a longer period because there is no obvious successor in place.

- First Lady strikes - While speculation swirled around Melania Trump's dislike for Kelly, she has been fully open in a rare, protocol-busting demand for the firing of another staffer - Bolton's deputy Mira Ricardel.

The first lady's staff and Mrs Ricardel reportedly clashed during Mrs Trump's October visit to Africa over issues such as plane seating and requests to use the National Security Council's resources.

The Daily Beast reports that Melania's decision to weigh in on whether to fire officials is a direct reflection of the vacuum left by chief of staff John Kelly, who has largely lost whatever control he once had over the chaotic White House.

This is a breaking story and will be updated. The former transition official characterized Ricardel as "smart and tough", but acknowledged that she is not always effective at navigating "internal politics".

"It is the position of the Office of the First Lady that she no longer deserves the honor of serving in this White House", Stephanie Grisham, communications director for the first lady, told CBS News in an email Tuesday.

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Asked if some untrustworthy people still worked in the White House, Mrs. Trump replied, "Yes".

Trump was expected to remove Nielsen, a source close to the White House said. "We're looking at that, and I do want to study whatever is being said", Trump told reporters last week. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss White House personnel matters, said Ricardel then threatened not to send any NSC staff.

Current and former colleagues of Ricardel paint a picture of a committed conservative and national security expert with a strong personality.

"Well", she said, "some people, they don't work there anymore".

One person said neither Trump, Kelly nor press secretary Sarah Sanders knew the statement was coming. Two administration sources said she is generally not well liked, though others pushed back, saying she was a respected member of the team and one of the highest ranking women in the West Wing.

During her five-day trip to Ghana, Mali, Kenya and Egypt last month, she said there are people in the White House who she and the president can not trust.

Another official was more forgiving: "She'd run through a brick wall for you but her personality isn't for everyone".