November 13, 2018
WASHINGTON - Melania Trump's unexpected feud with a national security official exploded Tuesday when the First Lady publicly called for the official's firing.
The quarrel between the first lady and deputy national security adviser Mira Ricardel apparently began during a trip Trump took to Africa last month. Two officials told USA TODAY that Ricardel argued with Trump's staff over airplane seating for the first lady's trip.
They accused Ricardel, who wound up not going to Africa, of spreading false stories about the incident. The officials said Ricardel had clashed with other staff members as well.
But on Tuesday, more than a month after the trip, the feud became very public when the first lady released a statement saying Ricardel should be fired.
"It is the position of the Office of the First Lady that she (Ricardel) no longer deserves the honor of serving in this White House," said a statement from Stephanie Grisham, the first lady's communications director.

Here's a little more about Ricardel, taken from previous USA TODAY reporting, statements from the Trump administration, her resume on LinkedIn and comments she made to Congress during a Senate confirmation hearing.
Ricardel's roots with the Trump administration go back to the president's transition team, before he took office. Over the years, she's served in three administrations and held a variety of roles in different government agencies, including in the Commerce, State and Defense departments.
Her high-profile roles in Washington go back to a stint at the State Department in the 1980s and later as a legislative assistant for Republicans in the Senate. Ricardel also worked on Sen. Bob Dole's failed presidential campaign in 1996.
The two appeared to remain close over the years, though, and Ricardel mentioned Dole's role in mentoring her during a Congressional testimony last year.
Under former President George W. Bush, Ricardel worked in the Defense Department as a deputy assistant secretary for defense in Eurasia after the September 11 attacks, serving a major role in the region and helping coordinate where troops and other assets would be stationed.
She also has extensive experience in the private sector, working for Boeing for more about a decade before joining the president's team.
After helping on President Donald Trump's transition, she served as a special assistant to the president before the president nominated her last year as undersecretary for export administration in the Commerce Department.
She wasn't in the role for long. Ricardel was nabbed by National security adviser John Bolton when he came into the role earlier this year and was appointed his No. 2.
"I selected her as Deputy National Security Advisor because her expertise is broad-based and includes national security matters related to our alliances, defense posture, technology security, foreign security assistance, and arms control," Bolton said in a statement at the time.
Ricardel's roots include Europe. Her father was an immigrant who ended up in the United States after leaving Croatia.
She talked about him in Congressional testimony last year, telling senators her late-father came to America with "little more than optimism in his pockets."
"He was always optimistic about what was possible in this great Nation--a view that carried him from communist-controlled Croatia via Germany to the United States," she said during testimony for a Commerce Department role.
Ricardel graduated from Georgetown University and completed her doctoral studies at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. She lived in California before moving back to Washington to work in the Trump administration.
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