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NICHOLAS KAMM

Trump tries to explain his wife firing a national security official

Updated

The Rachel Maddow Show, 11/14/18, 9:39 PM ET

First Lady forces out Trump's deputy national security adviser

Rachel Maddow follows up on yesterday’s news that Deputy National Security Adviser Mira Ricardel might be fired at the behest of Melania Trump with news that in fact Ricardel will be re-assigned.
Rachel Maddow follows up on yesterday’s news that Deputy National Security Adviser Mira Ricardel might be fired at the behest of Melania Trump with news that in fact Ricardel will be re-assigned.
Americans confront an avalanche of controversies surrounding Donald Trump’s White House on a nearly daily basis, which often means important stories capture and lose attention too quickly. Take the story of Mira Ricardel, for example.

In a move without any known precedent, First Lady Melania Trump’s office announced early last week that she believes Ricardel, the White House’s deputy national security adviser, “no longer deserves the honor” of serving in that position.

A day later, Ricardel was out, moved to “a new role within the administration.”

In a Fox News interview that aired yesterday, Chris Wallace asked about the developments.

WALLACE: Your deputy national security advisor was moved out after your wife did something I’ve never heard of a first lady doing before publicly calling for her removal. Are you comfortable with the way that went down where it kind of looked like your wife was firing one of your advisors?

TRUMP: Well, I didn’t know the advisor well, really, and I know they had a lot of problems…. They came to me. They wanted to go a little bit public because that’s the way they felt and I thought it was fine.

I met with Mira two days ago and we’re going to move her around. She was with me for a long time, although I don’t know her. She’s really somebody I don’t know very well. But we’re going to move her around because she’s got certain talents.

So, when Wallace said it “kind of looked like” Melania Trump “was firing one of your advisors,” that’s because the First Lady really was responsible for ousting the White House deputy national security adviser.

Not to put too fine a point on this, but this is all quite bonkers.

The official responsibilities of the First Lady have always been a bit murky. It’s generally a ceremonial position – voters don’t give a presidential spouse any official power – though every modern First Lady has tackled specific causes and campaigns of personal interest and/or national significance. Melania Trump, for example, has taken an interest in online bullying.

As her husband refers to incoming House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) as “Adam Schitt,” it appears those efforts aren’t going especially well.

Regardless, the idea of a First Lady firing a White House deputy national security adviser is outlandish for a fairly obvious reason: there’s no reason Melania Trump should have any influence over national security policy or personnel.

Asked about this, the sitting president of the United States said “they” – he didn’t specify who – went public with his wife’s position, and he “thought it was fine.”

It’s not “fine” at all.