Trump fires senior adviser at start of expected White House reshuffle

WASHINGTON: An angry Donald Trump removed a senior adviser on Wednesday after First Lady Melania Trump demanded her sacking, with more heads set to roll in a White House reshuffle triggered by infighting and setbacks in the midterm elections.
Melania Trump made the extremely rare demand for deputy national security adviser Mira Ricardel to be fired on Tuesday, saying “she no longer deserves the honour of serving in this White House.”
The protocol-busting move followed a falling out that press leaks say was partly linked to a dispute over seating arrangements on the plane that took the first lady for a tour of African countries in October. Ricardel was also reportedly blamed for negative news coverage of Melania Trump.
The first lady got her way on Wednesday when presidential spokeswoman Sarah Sanders announced that Ricardel “departs the White House to transition to a new role within the Administration.”
The start to the second half of Donald Trump’s first term is enveloped in gloom as the president surveys the damage from the midterms, tension with some of America’s closest allies, and now turmoil inside the administration.
On Wednesday, he was quoted by right-wing website The Daily Caller saying that a wider reshuffle is coming.
“A lot of people want to come in, a lot of politicians who have had very successful careers want to come in,” he said.
The biggest name on the chopping block, according to multiple US media reports, is chief of staff John Kelly.
A retired Marine Corps general, he has often been referred to as “the adult in the room” during Trump’s drama-prone administration, even if critics say he has done little to temper the president’s most damaging outbursts. Now Kelly’s days are numbered, according to the unconfirmed but mounting leaks to US media.
His position, tenuous for months, has been undermined further by reports that he also clashed with Melania Trump — a relatively backstage first lady who has rarely made her influence so obviously felt as this week.
Melania Trump was angry that Kelly had refused to promote some of her aides, reports say.
Nick Ayers, a 36-year-old chief of staff to Vice-President Mike Pence and renowned political consultant, is reportedly high on the list to replace Kelly.
Another expected reshuffle casualty is Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, a Kelly ally who oversees the politically sensitive task of carrying out Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration.
Trump told The Daily Caller he’ll make “a decision on homeland shortly.”
Among Nielsen’s critics has been National Security Adviser John Bolton, who last month was widely reported to have erupted in a shouting match with Kelly right outside the Oval Office over her performance. — AFP