US First Lady Melania Trump on 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.
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, according to the Journal, which cited unnamed sources.
After last week’s midterm elections, the Republican president 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.
Trump is reportedly unhappy with how Nielsen is handling the situation at the US-Mexico border.
When asked Tuesday about possible staff changes, Trump declined to comment on specifics, only telling reporters: “We’ll be talking about it.”
It was however unclear if he was responding to that question, or a question about a lawsuit filed by CNN against his administration over the stripping of CNN reporter Jim Acosta’s White House credentials.