The office of first lady Melania Trump said Tuesday deputy national security adviser Mira Ricardel should be dismissed from her post, an extraordinary call that came as President Trump considers further shakeups to his Cabinet after the departure of Jeff Sessions as attorney general.
"It is the position of the Office of the First Lady that [Ricardel] no longer deserves the honor of serving in this White House,” Stephanie Grisham, Melania Trump's communications director, said in a statement.
The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that Ricardel had clashed with Melania Trump's staff over seating arrangements on a plane during the first lady's trip to Africa last month. The paper added that the first lady's office suspects Ricardel of leaking negative stories about the first lady and her staff.
The Journal also reported that Ricardel has sparred with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis over policy differences and staffing decisions. The Washington Post, citing three current and two former White House officials, reported that Ricardel had berated people in meetings and spread rumors about Mattis. The paper also reported that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly has sought Ricardel's ouster for months.
Ricardel, 58, assumed the post of deputy national security adviser in May, one month after Trump appointed John Bolton as national security adviser to replace Henry McMaster. She attended a White House ceremony Tuesday with Trump celebrating Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights.
Melania Trump traveled to Ghana, Mali, Kenya and Egypt last month. During the trip, she told ABC News that there are people in the White House whom she and the president cannot trust. She declined to name anyone but said she had let the president know who they are.
"Well," she said, "some people, they don't work there anymore."
Asked if some untrustworthy people still worked in the White House, she replied, "Yes."
The furor over Ricardel comes as Trump is considering changes to his Cabinet that could include the departures of Kelly, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, among others. The Journal reported Tuesday that Trump is "resigned" to the possibility of Kelly leaving the White House if Nielsen is asked to resign.
A leading candidate to replace Kelly if he goes is Nick Ayers, the chief of staff for Vice President Mike Pence.
Fox News' Kristin Brown and John Roberts and the Associated Press contributed to this report.