Trump's Top Aide Fired After Melania Calls For Her Removal

Posted November 15, 2018

President Donald Trump was caught totally off-guard by First Lady Melania Trump's stunning public opposition to deputy National Security Advisor Mira Ricardel.

And before her spat with the East Wing, Ricardel butted heads repeatedly with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, a rivalry that was well-known within the Trump administration.

When asked about the status of Ricardel's employment status, a White House official who insisted on anonymity said only that Ricardel was the highest ranking official in the administration, that she had previously been confirmed by the Senate for a Commerce Department position and that she had never met Melania Trump. A senior administration official told CBS News' Fin Gomez that there has been a first lady staff-led fight against Ricardel, particularly on her trip to Africa over seating and utilizing National Security Council resources.

Later, two unnamed White House officials told NBC News that Trump chief of staff John Kelly may also be on his way out after clashing with Melania by denying her requests to promote her aides.

"It is the position of the Office of the First Lady that she no longer deserves the honour of serving in this White House", Stephanie Grisham said.

This is a breaking story and will be updated. But the official said she has been given some time to clear out her desk.

In a statement on Wednesday, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said that Mrs Ricardel "will continue to support the president". The other main takeaway from Trump's trip - the round criticism of a decision to scrap a visit to an American military cemetery due to the rain - has reportedly left the president incensed, and the prospect of a White House shakeup all the greater.

His position, tenuous for months, has been undermined further by First Lady Melania Trump's anger that Kelly refused to promote some of her aides, United States media reports say. "We're looking at that, and I do want to study whatever is being said", Trump told reporters last week.

Grisham's statement was issued shortly after that event ended.

Ricardel, 58, assumed the post of deputy national security adviser in May, one month after Trump appointed John Bolton as national security adviser to replace H.R. McMaster. And 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. But now the president is considering getting rid of both them, the source said.

Ricardel has been key to Bolton's efforts to restructure the National Security Council and to help Bolton secure his place as an influential adviser to the President on all foreign policy matters.

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