Trump expected to reshuffle staff in White House turmoil

In an extraordinary move for a first lady, Melania Trump's office on Tuesday publicly called for the firing of a senior National Security Council official.

Ricardel had argued with Melania Trump about her trip to Africa last month, her first solo trip overseas without the president, three current and two former administration officials told The Washington Post in a report published Tuesday.

"Mrs. Trump is a strong and independent woman who has been navigating her role as first lady in her own way", Grisham said.

"He listens to her more intently than anyone and respects her advice and counsel not only because she is his wife, but because her loyalty, grace, trust, elegance under fire, intellect and instincts are time-tested and proven", the president's friend, Thomas J. Barrack Jr., told The New York Times in August.

This is a breaking story and will be updated.

National security adviser John Bolton, who was in Singapore when news of Ricardel's dismissal broke, said when he tapped her to be his deputy in April that she "has a track record of successfully managing teams and diverse organizations, as well as addressing complex issues". But the official said she has been given some time to clear out her desk. It came after reports surfaced earlier Tuesday indicating Ricardel would be pushed out of her post after less than seven months on the job.

The Wall Street Journal reported the First Lady's staff and Ms Ricardel had clashed during Ms Trump's visit to Africa in October, over such things as seating on the plane.

A White House official confirmed to CNN that Trump has told people that Ricardel will be fired.

Stephanie Grisham, the first lady's communications director issued a statement around 2:30 p.m. saying the official, Mira Ricardel, should no longer serve as the NSC's No. 2.

Reflecting the fast-moving nature of the events, soon after a Wall Street Journal report surfaced Tuesday afternoon alleging Ricardel was sacked and escorted off the White House grounds, a senior White House official denied the story to reporters. "We're looking at that, and I do want to study whatever is being said", Trump told reporters last week. "So, I'd prefer not to, you know, speak on what she's doing versus what I did because I think every first lady approaches this job differently", she said.

Bolton had fought behind the scenes to keep Ricardel from being forced out but ultimately lost the battle, two officials said. Sources said officials in the White House press shop were particularly annoyed that they didn't get a heads-up from the East Wing.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders had no immediate reaction to the first lady's statement.

  • Jacqueline Ellis