First Lady Melania Trump wants one of Defense Secretary James Mattis’ rivals in the National Security Council gone.
Mira Ricardel, who reportedly launched a rumor campaign against Mattis in recent months, allegedly got into an argument with the first lady’s staff during a trip to Africa in October, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday. Moreover, Melania Trump’s team has told President Trump they believe Ricardel has been the source for negative stories about the first lady.
The first lady’s spokesman issued a blistering statement on Tuesday that Melania Trump does not believe that Ricardel is serving the president well.
“It is the position of the Office of the First Lady that she no longer deserves the honor of serving in this White House,” Stephanie Grisham said in an email.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Ricardel still worked at the White House, a senior administration official told Task & Purpose. Her arrival in the White House this spring as deputy national security adviser coincided with a series of stories in the media suggesting that President Trump was not satisfied with Mattis, the Washington Post reported in October.
Ricardel has denied trying to undermine Mattis.
“The NSC is coordinating across government agencies to implement the President’s agenda, including with the Defense Department under the leadership of General Mattis, for whom I have great respect,” she said in an Oct. 16 statement to Task & Purpose.
On Tuesday, a reporter asked Mattis if he agreed with the first lady that Ricardel should leave the NSC.
“I don’t comment on other people’s staffing issues,” Mattis replied.