John Kelly may leave after clashing with first lady Melania Trump: NBC News

John Kelly may leave after clashing with first lady Melania Trump: NBC News

First ladys office calls for firing of top Bolton deputy

(CNN)A feud with the first ladys office is expected to cost a senior national security adviser her job after she sparred with East Wing staff and other key members of the Trump administration.

First lady Melania Trump reportedly wants Deputy National Security Adviser Mira Ricardel fired. The two allegedly clashed during Trumps trip to Africa.

Ayers, who has worked to develop a relationship with Trump as the vice presidents chief of staff, is not the only candidate under consideration in what the three people familiar with the outreach describe as active discussions in the White House about replacing Kelly, possibly by the end of the year. The vice presidents office had no comment on the possibility of the appointment. One White House official, speaking on the condition of anonymity said “personnel decisions dont mean anything until formally announced by the,” president. “Regardless, Nick and those close to him have never lobbied for this.”

Video: Chief Of Staff John Kelly May Soon Depart White House | Andrea Mitchell | MSNBC

The office of first lady Melania Trump said Tuesday deputy national security adviser Mira Ricardel should be dismissed from her post, an extraordinary call that came as President Trump considers further shakeups to his Cabinet after the departure of Jeff Sessions as attorney general.

Kelly has also sparred with the East Wing over travel arrangements for the first ladys staff, people familiar with the issue said. He often wouldnt reserve space for Melania Trumps two aides on Air Force One or on helicopters. They would find themselves without hotel rooms and not listed for motorcade movements. The omissions have caused last-minute logistical issues that the first lady viewed as a slight, these people said.

"It is the position of the Office of the First Lady that [Ricardel] no longer deserves the honor of serving in this White House,” Stephanie Grisham, Melania Trump's communications director, said in a statement.

WASHINGTON—President Trump is considering new high-level staff changes in his administration—including discussing a potential successor for White House Chief of Staff John Kelly—as the West Wing makes preparations for the start of the final two years of Mr. Trumps current term.

The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that Ricardel had clashed with Melania Trump's staff over seating arrangements on a plane during the first lady's trip to Africa last month. The paper added that the first lady's office suspects Ricardel of leaking negative stories about the first lady and her staff.

The Journal also reported that Ricardel has sparred with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis over policy differences and staffing decisions. The Washington Post, citing three current and two former White House officials, reported that Ricardel had berated people in meetings and spread rumors about Mattis. The paper also reported that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly has sought Ricardel's ouster for months.

Ricardel, 58, assumed the post of deputy national security adviser in May, one month after Trump appointed John Bolton as national security adviser to replace Henry McMaster. She attended a White House ceremony Tuesday with Trump celebrating Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights.

That announcement, which came less than a day after Democrats won back majority control of the House in the midterm elections, was immediately met with criticism from Democrats and legal experts, who alleged that Whitaker was unconstitutionally appointed and was selected because of his past skepticism toward special counsel Robert Muellers Russia probe.

John Kelly could be out of the White House soon

Melania Trump traveled to Ghana, Mali, Kenya and Egypt last month. During the trip, she told ABC News that there are people in the White House whom she and the president cannot trust. She declined to name anyone but said she had let the president know who they are.

Two White House officials told NBC that Melania Trump had told the president earlier in 2018 that Kelly had repeatedly turned down requests to promote some of her aides, even as Kellys staff received promotions. Trump reportedly directed Kelly to approve the first ladys requests after learning of the disputes.

After First Lady slam, Mattis foe Ricardel appears on thin ice

The furor over Ricardel comes as Trump is considering changes to his Cabinet that could include the departures of Kelly, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, among others. The Journal reported Tuesday that Trump is "resigned" to the possibility of Kelly leaving the White House if Nielsen is asked to resign.

Asked about the report later in the afternoon by reporters, the first ladys spokeswoman did not mince words, saying it is the position of the Office of the First Lady that [Ricardel] no longer deserves the honor of serving in this White House — an unusually strong and direct comment on national security matters from that office.

A leading candidate to replace Kelly if he goes is Nick Ayers, the chief of staff for Vice President Mike Pence.

On Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Trump intended to remove Ricardel from office, following an incident between the deputy and First Lady Melania Trump during a recent trip to Africa. A further NBC News report cited an issue over allowing NSC staff on the first ladys plane.


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