Sat, 25 May 2019

Trump’s rumored post-election Cabinet shakeup rattles aides

By Sheetal Sukhija, Asia Pacific News
16 Nov 2018, 01:32 GMT+10

WASHINGTON, U.S. - In the aftermath of the embarrassment from the Midterm elections earlier this month, the White House has been gripped with rumors of a serious purge being planned by the U.S. President Donald Trump.

Since Trump and the Republicans were handed bruising midterm losses right before the President's visit to France, the rumors that had somehow subsided, returned with a vigor this week, in the aftermath of the ouster of the Deputy National Security Adviser, Mira Ricardel.

Ricardel's dramatic ouster on Wednesday came after the U.S. First Lady, Melania Trump made an unusually direct intervention in internal White House affairs a day earlier.

On Tuesday, in a bid to define her more distant role in the administration, Melania Trump issued a scathing statement attacking Ricardel.

The First Lady's office called for Ricardel's firing and said that "she no longer deserves the honor of serving in this White House."

Ricardel, who was tapped to serve as his deputy by the National security adviser John Bolton in April, has previously worked as an undersecretary of commerce and had also held positions at the State and Defense departments.

At the time, Bolton hailed Ricardel's "track record of successfully managing teams and diverse organizations, as well as addressing complex issues."

However, some current and former officials have revealed that Ricardel had frequently argued with the first lady, clashed with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, berated people in meetings and has yelled at professional staff at the White House.

The FLOTUS reportedly became disaffected with the Deputy National Security Adviser during her October trip to Africa, when Ricardel was reportedto have made disparaging remarks about two of the first ladys staff traveling with her.

Further, sources have revealed that the White House Chief of Staff John Kelly had sought to oust Ricardel for months.

Further, Mattis too is reported to have told advisers that he wants Ricardel out.

A report in the New York Times also revealed that Ricardel had accused some of Trumps most trusted aides of inappropriate behavior, but the first lady has stated that these were false claims.

On Wednesday, a day after the U.S. First Lady's statement based on her conclusions from a personal dispute with the Deputy National Security Adviser, the White House announced that Ricardel was departing to transition to a new role within the administration.

The White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said that President Trump "is grateful for Ms. Ricardel's continued service to the American people and her steadfast pursuit of his national security priorities."

Savage shakeup more likely now

While Ricardel's ouster managed to clarify the extent of power that the First Lady Melania Trump can wield if she chooses to, it has also managed to fan rumors of a savage cabinet shakeup by Trump.

Sources quoted in reports said last week that Trump is moving toward major shuffles of his cabinet and his West Wing staff.

Reports quoting people close to the President had revealed that Trump was planning to fire Kirstjen Nielsen, the secretary of homeland security who has long been a target of the presidents displeasure.

The sources revealed that Trump even talked about dismissing Nielsen ahead of his trip to Paris for a World War I commemoration.

More importantly, sources within the White House indicated that Nielsen's ouster was an indication that Trump would also push out the White House chief of staff, John Kelly, without directly firing him.

Reports noted that for long now, Nick Ayers, the chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, has been seen as a prospective replacement for Kelly if he leaves.

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