Melania Trump Pushes Out Top National Security Aide — and John Kelly Might Be Next

In what appeared to be an unprecedented move for a first lady, Melania Trump's office has publicly called for the resignation of a top White House National Security Council official

Trump, Rockville, USA - 20 Aug 2018
Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP/Shutterstock

In what appeared to be an unprecedented move for a first lady, Melania Trump‘s office has publicly called for the resignation of a top White House National Security Council official.

The employee in question is deputy national security adviser Mira Ricardel. A statement issued Tuesday by Mrs. Trump’s communications director, Stephanie Grisham, and obtained by Bloomberg reads: “It is the position of the Office of the First Lady that [Ricardel] no longer deserves the honor of serving in this White House.”

The statement came in response to a question about reports that the first lady had sought to have Ricardel removed.

The first lady’s office did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

Carolyn Kaster/AP/REX/Shutterstock

According to CNN, reports had been circulating for most of Tuesday that Ricardel was being pushed out of the position just seven months after her hiring. She has been a major source of support for the head of the department, John Bolton, but allegedly perpetuated infighting within the administration.

For example, according to CNN, an anonymous White House official said Ricardel had fought with the office of Mrs. Trump, 48, regarding her recent trip to Africa. The official said Ricardel protested using National Security Council resources for the trip and then allegedly leaked stories.

Melania Trump visits Kenya, Nairobi - 05 Oct 2018

Sources say Ricardel was also often at odds with Chief of Staff John Kelly, who may be on his way out, too — along with his protégé, Kirstjen Nielsen, Secretary of Homeland Security.

President Trump has been eyeing potential replacements for Nielsen and Kelly, CNN reports, citing multiple officials familiar with the matter.

Among the potential replacements for Kelly is Nick Ayers, Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, according to CNN. But two officials said it remains uncertain whether Trump will dismiss Kelly and promote Ayers.

Kelly has allegedly been involved in clashes recently with both Bolton and the first lady’s office.

“There have been instances where the East Wing [where the first lady’s office suite is located] staff were not treated as equals to the male-dominated decision makers in Chief Kelly’s office,” a White House official told NBC News. “Promotions [of Mrs. Trump’s aides] were denied then finally granted after months of requests.”

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More than once, the conflict had to be escalated to President Donald Trump, which allegedly infuriated the 45th commander in chief, 72, prompting him to tell Kelly, “Deal with it,” NBC News reported.

The outlet also reported that, according to people with knowledge of the issue, Kelly sometimes created logistical problems for Mrs. Trump’s aides by refusing to reserve space for them on Air Force One, not allowing them hotel rooms, or not allowing them to attend motorcade events. The first lady allegedly saw his actions as slights.


In a statement to NBC News, Grisham said: “The East Wing is very focused on the First Lady’s initiatives and works independently … However, we do collaborate on a variety of projects and work alongside many departments within the west wing. We have a very positive working relationship.”

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