US first lady Melania Trump Tuesday publicly pushed for the dismissal of Deputy National Security Advisor Mira Ricardel: a rare criticism of a senior administration official by the president's wife. The rebuke—via a brief statement from the first lady's spokeswoman—came amid swirling speculation about a possible shake-up of President Donald Trump's Cabinet following last week's midterm elections.
"It is the position of the Office of the First Lady that she no longer deserves the honour of serving in this White House," Melania Trump's spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said in a statement.
Shortly before the statement was issued, Ricardel was among a group of administration officials and other individuals who stood behind President Trump at a White House ceremony celebrating Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, reported The Associated Press.
The Wall Street Journal claimed Ricardel had been fired and escorted out of the White House, but an administration official denied that to reporters. Ricardel reportedly battled with the first lady's staff during her trip to Africa last month, and was believed to be the source of negative stories about Melania Trump, the newspaper reported citing unnamed sources.
According to Reuters, the first lady complained to the president that she was unhappy with her treatment by Ricardel, a former Boeing Company executive who worked on Trump's presidential campaign and was chosen by National Security Adviser John Bolton to be his deputy in May 2018.
Born Mira P Radielovic, she is of Croation descent . The child of immigrants, she was raised in California's Pasadena and studied at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service. Later she went on to do doctoral work at Tufts University's Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. Before her marriage to Vincent Ricardel, she was married to Robert Baratta.
The New York Times reported that during the early 1990s, she advised Senator Bob Dole on the Balkans, relying on her own Croatian background and later worked for then defense secretary Donald H Rumsfeld in President George W Bush’s administration. According to CNN, Ricardel held several positions in three Republican administrations under the departments of state, commerce and defense and worked in the private sector before joining Trump's presidential transition as a Pentagon adviser.
The fifty-eight-year old has clashed with Defense Secretary James Mattis and his Pentagon team multiple times over issues such as staffing decisions and policy differences, but has remained an important ally for Bolton, reported The Wall Street Journal.
After last week's midterm elections, President Trump was expected to make some changes as he prepares for the second half of his term in office. Among those on the possible chopping block: Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, a close ally of Trump's chief of staff John Kelly.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Nov 14, 2018 20:29:02 IST