You may have already heard that Trump wants to fire Kirstjen Nielsen. And that may mean John Kelly leaving. That’s what the WSJ is reporting today…
Mr. Trump has told aides that he is aware that forcing out Ms. Nielsen may result in Mr. Kelly quitting, administration officials said. Mr. Trump has told these aides that he is resigned to the possibility of Mr. Kelly leaving, and that he probably will replace Mr. Kelly with Nick Ayers, who is currently chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence.
At the White House Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Trump declined to say whether he planned to fire Ms. Nielsen or make other staff changes. “We’ll be talking about it,” he told reporters when asked about his plans.
White House officials also cautioned that Mr. Trump has considered changes to the administration in the past. The president often games out multiple staffing scenarios with advisers, including months of talking about whether to replace Mr. Kelly. While those discussions often signal impending changes, that is not always the case.
“This is how the president works,” one White House official said. “He’s doused a bunch of people in gasoline and he’s waiting for someone to light a match.”
A White House spokeswoman declined to comment. A spokesman for the Homeland Security Department also declined comment.
Considering that Bolton was blasting Nielsen a few weeks ago for doing a terrible job on the border, this doesn’t really surprise me. And if Kelly is really that beholden to Nielsen, then he’ll probably leave. Which I’m not sure would be the best thing for this White House.
But we are also learning now that Trump may in fact be firing someone else – John Bolton’s right-hand woman who runs the NSC…at the behest of his First Lady!
The president has also decided to remove Mira Ricardel, the top deputy for national security adviser John Bolton, officials said. A National Security Council spokeswoman declined to comment.
The president became involved in that decision at the urging of first lady Melania Trump, whose staff battled with Ms. Ricardel during the first lady’s trip to Africa last month over seating on the plane and requests to use National Security Council resources, according to people familiar with the matter.
The first lady’s team told the president that they suspect Ms. Ricardel is behind some negative stories about Ms. Trump and her staff.
Ms. Ricardel also repeatedly clashed with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and his Pentagon team over staffing decisions and policy differences, according to people familiar with the feud. That discord has created a chill in relations between Ms. Ricardel and Defense Department officials wary of her intentions, these people say.
Ms. Ricardel has served as a vital ally for Mr. Bolton as he settled into his West Wing role after taking the national security job in April. Mr. Bolton lost another loyalist last month when his longtime friend, Fred Fleitz, stepped down after serving just six months as chief of staff and executive secretary for the National Security Council.
Melania’s own spokeswoman actually published a statement declaring that Ms. Ricardel didn’t deserve to keep her job, according to CNN:
First lady Melania Trump, in a remarkable move carried out by her spokeswoman, publicly pushed for the ouster of deputy national security adviser Mira Ricardel.
“It is the position of the Office of the First Lady that (Ricardel) no longer deserves the honor of serving in this White House,” the first lady’s communications director Stephanie Grisham said in a statement on Tuesday.
Wow. Why would Ricardel pick a fight with the First Lady? It must be pretty bitter for Melania to issue a statement like this.
Hopefully Bolton can pick someone who gets along with people better than Ricardel when she’s finally gone.