For a first lady who keeps to herself and avoids publicly acknowledging the palace intrigue associated with her husband’s drama-laced White House, the statement that came out of Melania Trump’s office on Tuesday afternoon — bashing a national security staffer — was befuddling to many.
But the tension between Trump and Mira Ricardel, a deputy national security adviser, has been brewing for more than a month, The New York Times reported.
According to people with direct knowledge of the situation who spoke to the Times, the problems began during Trump’s trip to Africa in October when Ricardel preemptively announced the visit before it was fully planned. Ricardel reportedly then threatened to sabotage the trip by pulling resources after she found out she didn’t have a seat on Trump’s plane.
When the first lady’s team arrived back in the U.S., Ricardel spread rumors within the West Wing about inappropriate behavior by members of Trump’s staff, including her Chief of Staff Lindsay Reynolds, according to the Times. A person close to Trump told the Times the allegations were not true.
Ricardel also reportedly was behind the leak of negative stories about White House staff and Trump herself, all of which prompted Trump to complain about Ricardel to Chief of Staff John Kelly. Kelly reportedly spoke with National Security Adviser John Bolton about the complaints, but Bolton didn’t act.
Ricardel is reportedly still employed at the White House, despite the damning statement released by Trump’s spokesperson Stephanie Grisham on Tuesday: “It is the position of the Office of the First Lady that she no longer deserves the honor of serving in this White House.”