Melania pushes for top White House aide to be fired

Mrs Mira Ricardel incurred the wrath of the First Lady after their dealings over the Africa trip reportedly "didn't go well".
Mrs Mira Ricardel incurred the wrath of the First Lady after their dealings over the Africa trip reportedly "didn't go well".

WASHINGTON • US President Donald Trump was under pressure from his wife Melania to fire his deputy national security adviser over the way Mrs Trump's trip to Africa was handled, said two sources close to the White House.

Two presidential aides said Mr Trump was considering forcing out deputy national security adviser Mira Ricardel but, as of Tuesday afternoon, the adviser remained in her West Wing office.

Mrs Trump's office took the extraordinary step of issuing a statement, saying that Mrs Ricardel should be ousted. While first ladies historically have been known to pressure their husbands over official business, they do not typically issue statements about it.

"It is the position of the Office of the First Lady that she no longer deserves the honour of serving in this White House," Ms Stephanie Grisham, the First Lady's spokesman, said in a terse statement.

She did not say why the First Lady wanted Mrs Ricardel out, but several officials said it was related to Mrs Trump's trip to Africa last month. Mrs Trump had complained to the President that she was unhappy with how she was treated by Mrs Ricardel, a former Boeing executive who worked on the Trump presidential campaign and was picked by national security adviser John Bolton to be his deputy earlier this year, two other sources familiar with the White House intrigue told Reuters.

The sources said Mrs Trump explicitly asked the President to oust Mrs Ricardel after their dealings over the Africa trip "didn't go well".

One source said Mrs Trump felt that Mrs Ricardel tried to short-change the First Lady when it came to government resources allocated to support her Africa tour.

 

A White House official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that Mrs Ricardel had never met Mrs Trump.

On Tuesday, a smiling Mrs Ricardel had a prominent spot at the front of the room at a White House celebration marking Deepavali, the Hindu festival of lights.

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

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 15, 2018, with the headline 'Melania pushes for top White House aide to be fired'. Print Edition | Subscribe