John Kelly targeted in expanding White House shakeup

Frederick Owens
November 14, 2018

US First Lady Melania Trump has issued a statement calling for Mira Ricardel, a top national security aide to President Donald Trump, to be fired.

Ricardel attended a White House ceremony Tuesday with President Donald Trump celebrating Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights.

According to United States media reports, Mrs Trump and Mrs Ricardel fell out during the first lady's trip to Africa last month and quarrelled over seating arrangements on her plane.

A source familiar with Ricardel's White House performance said Ricardel also ran afoul of much of the NSC staff and "sort of alienated everyone" except for Bolton, the veteran conservative foreign policy expert who has been her immediate superior.

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.

Mira Ricardel is the current deputy national security advisor for the White House. Earlier this year, she pushed back on a New York Times report that she drafted a resignation letter but did not submit it, after Trump scolded her at a Cabinet meeting.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was thought to be out as soon as this week, according to two people with knowledge of the issue, but she is now likely to remain in the post for a longer period because there is no obvious successor in place.

Melania allegedly complained to the President, 72, saying she was unhappy with how she was treated by Ms Ricardel, according to two sources speaking to Reuters.

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Trump has changed his mind on key personnel decisions before, and Chief of Staff John Kelly is fighting Nielsen's pending dismissal and attempting to postpone it, aides say.

A spokesman for the National Security Council had no immediate comment.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Ricardel still worked at the White House, a senior administration official told Task & Purpose.

With the mid-term elections now in the rear-view mirror, the situation in the Trump White House appears to be coming to a head.

Still, Trump is said to have blamed her for a rebound in the number of people arrested at the Mexican border this year.

The Post reports that while she feels that way Chief of Staff John F. Kelly has been fighting to keep her. In May, The Washington Post said, "Nielsen finds herself on the receiving end of the president's visceral anger about immigration".

The report comes less than a week after Trump ousted Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

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