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Melania Trump demands sacking of senior national security official in extraordinary move

Rozina Sabur

First Lady Melania Trump has taken the extraordinary step of publicly demanding one of the president's senior national security officials be sacked. 

Mrs Trump is reported to have complained about Mira Ricardel, who currently serves as the deputy national security adviser under John Bolton, after her recent trip to Africa.

Following reports that Ms Ricardel could be pushed out during a staffing reshuffle, Mrs Trump's spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said on Tuesday: “It is the position of the Office of the First Lady that she [Ms Ricardel] no longer deserves the honour of serving in this White House”. 

Reports have been circulating in recent weeks that Donald Trump would shake up his cabinet after the midterm elections, but it is highly unusual for the First Lady's office to comment on personnel issues within the West Wing. 

Mira Ricardel is reported to have drawn the ire of the First Lady during her trip to Africa - AP

According to US media, Ms Ricardel had a recent spat with members of the first lady's staff over her trip to Africa, including seating on the plane and use of National Security Council resources.

Ms Ricardel has only been in the post for seven months and is reported to have previously clashed with James Mattis, the Defence Secretary, and his team at the Pentagon.

It comes amid reports Mr Trump is planning to make several major staffing changes in the next few weeks, including replacing his chief of staff John Kelly.

The US president has already forced his Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, to resign. Mr Sessions said he was submitting his resignation at the "request" of Mr Trump. The announcement was made on November 7, the day after the midterm elections.

Another cabinet member thought to be in the firing line is Kirstjen Nielsen, the embattled Homeland Security Secretary. Mr Trump is thought to be unhappy with Ms Nielsen's implementation of his zero-tolerance immigration policy.

Mr Kelly is a close ally of Ms Nielsen, and her departure may prompt the chief of staff to hand in his resignation.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Mr Trump is resigned to such an outcome and is already contemplating potential replacements.

One possibility is Nick Ayers, who serves as chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence. Mr Ayers is said to have the backing of Ivanka Trump, the president's daughter, and her husband Jared Kushner.

During an event at the White House on Tuesday, Mr Trump refused to comment on reports that he planned to fire Ms Nielsen or make other staff changes. “We’ll be talking about it,” he said.