Trump Offered to Nominate Ricardel as Ambassador to Estonia, Sources Say

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump offered to nominate Mira Ricardel as ambassador to Estonia after First Lady Melania Trump forced the deputy national security adviser out of the White House, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Ricardel turned down the posting to the Baltic state, two of the people said. The president wants to find her a good position, and she’s been presented nearly a dozen jobs from which to choose, according to a senior White House official.

Ricardel, National Security Adviser John Bolton’s top deputy, departed the White House on Wednesday after clashing with Melania Trump’s staff over the first lady’s trip last month to Africa. Bolton hired Ricardel in April, and while he liked her, she had caused friction across the White House, where colleagues saw her as inflexible and obsessed with process.

“It’s been an honor to serve the president as deputy national security adviser,” Ricardel said in a statement on Friday. “I admire the president and first lady and have great respect for my colleagues who are dedicated to supporting the president’s policies, and I look forward to working with them in the months ahead.”

The saga of Ricardel’s departure unfolded amid speculation -- fueled by the president himself -- that Trump will soon make higher-profile changes to his administration. Trump told the Daily Caller in an interview on Wednesday that he would soon make “a decision” about Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, whom he has blamed for what he calls an illegal immigration “crisis” on the U.S. border with Mexico.

Melania Trump’s office issued an unusual public statement demanding Ricardel’s ouster on Tuesday. The White House aide had threatened to withhold National Security Council resources for the Africa trip unless she or another NSC staffer were included in the first lady’s entourage, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Melania Trump has never met Ricardel, the person added. But she signed off on her office’s statement, two people said.

All of the people asked not to be identified discussing a White House personnel matter.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday in a statement that Ricardel would “transition to a new role within the administration,” but didn’t say what the new job would be and didn’t respond to follow-up questions.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.