WASHINGTON — After a tumultuous week that included calls for removal from office by the first lady’s spokeswoman, Deputy National Security Adviser Mira Ricardel is leaving the NSC — but not the administration as a whole.
On Tuesday, reports surfaced that Ricardel was expected to be fired by President Donald Trump after some sort of altercation with first lady Melania Trump. The issue was compounded later that day when the first lady’s spokesperson issued a statement declaring it “is the position of the Office of the First Lady that [Ricardel] no longer deserves the honor of serving in this White House.”
Such a statement from the first lady’s office, unusual both in its tone and the fact it called for the firing of a top national security official, sent shock through Washington and led to Ricardel — in a key spot but generally unknown outside of national security circles — being featured heavily cable news channels.
Pushback from Ricardel’s supporters began almost immediately, with a White House official saying that Ricardel had never actually met the first lady. But by Thursday, the White House sent out a statement confirming that Ricardel would no longer be part of the NSC.
“Mira Ricardel will continue to support the President as she departs the White House to transition to a new role within the Administration. The President is grateful for Ms. Ricardel’s service to the American people and her steadfast pursuit of his national security priorities,” the statement read.
In a statement, Ricardel said “It’s been an honor to serve the President as Deputy National Security Advisor. I’m proud of my tenure helping Ambassador Bolton build and lead a diverse team while working across the interagency to implement the President’s national security agenda. I admire the President and First Lady and have great respect for my colleagues who are dedicated to supporting the President’s policies, and I look forward to working with them in the months ahead.”
In a letter to staff, National Security Advisor John Bolton wrote “I am deeply grateful for all Mira has done on behalf of the NSC, her deep knowledge of the national security issues we confront daily, and her unwavering commitment to the President.”
What Ricardel’s “new role” could be is unknown at this time. She was serving as undersecretary of commerce for export administration until April, when Bolton picked her to be his deputy; she has also reportedly sought jobs at the Pentagon.
An early supporter of Trump’s campaign, Ricardel was part of the “landing team” for the Pentagon before moving to the Office of Presidential Personnel, where she oversaw nominations for filling the Defense Department. During that stint, she reportedly clashed with Mattis over a number of nominees, to the point that sources say Mattis forced her from the role.