Melania Trump won a White House battle to decide the fate of one of the president’s national security advisers after an all-out brawl between the first lady’s staff and senior aides to her husband.
Mira Ricardel was fired Wednesday evening following a public rebuke from the office of the first lady.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders announced in an end-of-day statement that Ricardel, the deputy national security adviser, would depart the president’s service immediately.
Sanders claimed ‘Ricardel will continue to support the President as she departs the White House to transition to a new role within the Administration.’
The statement made no mention of Melania but said, ‘The President is grateful for Ms. Ricardel’s continued service to the American people and her steadfast pursuit of his national security priorities.’
Communications Director Bill Shine declined to elaborate on Ricardel’s reassignment, telling reporters, ‘The statement speaks for itself.’
Ricardel has been accused by her enemies within the White House of leaking.
Her firing took place on the same day that another fired Trump aide, Omarosa Manigault, claimed that a staffer who betrayed the president had been identified and would soon be departing.
Manigault did not identify the person, but claimed on MSNBC that a person would be fired on Wednesday for writing the anonymous New York Times op-ed trashing the president.
Ricardel’s direct boss, National Security Advisor John Bolton, was out of the country when the first lady’s office struck his deputy with a deafening blow. He’s supporting the Vice President in Singapore and at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit.
And in his absence, other senior aides in the West Wing came to Ricardel’s defense.
However, in the the end, the East Wing proved more powerful at the White House than the West.
Melania Trump had taken the extraordinary step of making a public call for the president to fire Ricardel – one of the highest-ranking women in the White House – on Tuesday after clashes over seating assignments on the first lady’s plane ride to Africa and requests for assistance from the National Security Council.
Ricardel was also a suspected leaker, sources disclosed to the The Wall Street Journal.
She was reportedly on her way out over the dust-up until the West Wing intervened, defending her to DailyMail.com and pushing back on a false claim that she had been escorted off the premises a day before she was actually fired.
‘This did not happen. She is still here at the WH,’ a senior official said in a Tuesday afternoon email,
A second high-ranking source claimed as the battle continued, ‘She is not a leaker.’
That official also claimed that Melania had never even met Ricardel, insinuating that the dispute is being driven entirely by White House staff.
The Wall Street Journal first reported that the first lady’s office was out for blood in the melee.
It incorrectly reported that she had been escorted out of the building later on Tuesday.
A senior White House official told DailyMail.com at the time the claim was inaccurate, and the outlet had to back track, with the author of the report explaining in a tweet that Ricardel was expected to be fired but was still at her desk.
Melania’s office declined to go into detail – ignoring multiple request for comment from DailyMail.com, but bluntly told ABC News that it wanted Ricardel gone.
‘It is the position of the Office of the First Lady that she no longer deserves the honor of serving in this White House,’ said spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham.
A West Wing official slapped back, telling CNBC in response: ‘The East Wing speaks for the East Wing.’
Ricardel had been seen standing near Trump at a Diwali ceremony earlier in the day in the Roosevelt Room.
Melania was meanwhile tweeting about her ‘Be Best’ campaign and how for ‘World Kindness Day’ she’d surprised tourists at the White House in a twist of irony following the public knifing of a female aide.
USA Today reported that the first lady felt ‘short-changed’ by Ricardel over government resources allocated to her Africa trip and was angered when Ricardel disparaged two of her aides.
Melania is also said to suspect that Ricardel was leaking stories to the press misrepresenting the spat.
The Journal mentioned, but did not originally spend much time on the dispute that had initially appeared in a major report of the day. It led with claims that the president was about to fire White House Chief of Staff John Kelly.
Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen was also said to be on her way out.
Trump acknowledged that he was planning to fire both officials in a major post-election shakeup of his administration in an interview with the Daily Caller on Wednesday.
He said he will make a decision ‘shortly’ about Nielsen, admitting to The Daily CallerKelly could also be axed in a major post-election shakeup of his administration.
‘Always in an administration after the midterms we make changes,’ he told the outlet. ‘We’re looking at a lot of options.’
The president said, ‘A lot of people want to come in, a lot of politicians who have had very successful careers want to come in.’
Trump wants a more aggressive approach to border control. A White House aide said when Nielsen was appointed, the president made the move on the recommendation of Kelly, her longtime mentor.
But the president believes the Kelly protégé hasn’t measured up, that same official said Tuesday.
NBC News also reported that Kelly will be pushed out because of his clashes with first lady Melania Trump’s office and with Bolton.
‘There have been instances where the East Wing staff were not treated as equals to the male-dominated decision makers in chief Kelly’s office,’ one White House official told NBC. ‘Promotions were denied then finally granted after months of requests.’
It’s unclear when Nielsen and Kelly might leave the administration.
Trump is reportedly considering replacing Kelly with Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, Nick Ayers, according to ABC News. Just last month Ayers denied the claim during an Oval Office encounter with a reporter in the presence of Trump and Kelly.