Melania Trump in Egypt, October 2018
Melania Trump is rewarded with the dismissal of Deputy National Security Advisor Mira Ricardel, after a dispute over seats on the First Lady’s plane.
Trump’s spokeswoman issued an extraordinary statement on Tuesday, “It is the position of the Office of the First Lady that she no longer deserves the honor of serving in this White House.”
Stories immediately spread that Ricardel had been fired and escorted from the building, forcing the White House to state that she was still at her desk at the National Security Council.
Surprised senior White House aides walked to Ricardel’s office to find she was still there, albeit confused. National Security Advisor John Bolton, awakened in Asia in the middle of the night, told Ricardel to remain.
But on Wednesday White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement, “Mira Ricardel will continue to support the President as she departs the White House to transition to a new role within the Administration.”
The showdown stemmed from Trump’s trip in early October to Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, and Egypt. Ricardel was angered that seats on the Government jet were assigned to a larger-than-usual security entourage and a small press corps, leaving no place for the Deputy National Security Advisor or another NSC staffer. Policy experts from the NSC and State Department were advised to fly separately and to meet the First Lady’s party on the ground.
Ricardel threatened to revoke NSC resources associated with the trip, which would have left Trump with no policy advisor.
Trump has privately maintained since then that Ricardel should be dismissed. She believed the advisor was spreading false rumors, including a story that aides arranged a $10,000 hotel stay in Egypt. Other White House staff said Ricardel belittled her assistants, shouted at professional staff, and was the most disliked member of the West Wing.
Bolton tried to protect his deputy, but his position was eroded by Ricardel’s fights with other key advisors.
Ricardel has been hostile towards White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. When rumors circulated last month that Mattis would soon be leaving the Pentagon, she was suspected of being the source.
Agencies including the Commerce Department, where Ricardel worked in the first year of the Trump administration, hesitated on Wednesday over taking her because of her reputation, according to “two senior administration officials”.
Donald Trump “Pissed At Damn Near Everyone”
The incident has further depressed Donald Trump, wounded after last week’s gains by Democrats in Congressional elections and agitated by a troubled weekend trip to France.
White House sources said Trump’s fury is increasing, amid his fear about the Russia investigation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions last Wednesday, a day after the elections, in an attempt to curb Mueller. Officials say he is considering the removal of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, believing she is too weak to carry out his anti-immigrant orders, and there have even been rumors that Chief of Staff Kelly could be in trouble.
“He’s pissed — at damn near everyone,” a White House official said.
A “person close to the President” pointed at the Trump-Russia inquiry, “He knows it’s winding up. So, it’s unsettling.”
On Monday, Trump sat down with lawyers to discuss written responses to questions from Mueller. His team have held out against a face-to-face encounter.
Donald Trump’s Latest “Voter Fraud” Lies
In his latest lies about voter fraud, Donald Trump has claimed that people changed disguises to cast multiple ballots and obtained voter IDs from cereal boxes.
Upset by his loss in the Presidential popular vote to Hillary Clinton in 2016, Trump said without support that “millions” of people voted illegally. He has repeated the claim of Democrats stealing elections in 2018, both to cover for the Republican setbacks last week and to stymie a recount in the Florida Senate race.
Trump said on Wednesday:
When people get in line that have absolutely no right to vote and they go around in circles. Sometimes they go to their car, put on a different hat, put on a different shirt, come in and vote again. Nobody takes anything. It’s really a disgrace what’s going on.
He added, “If you buy a box of cereal – you have a voter ID.”