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First lady's office, deputy national security adviser clash

First lady calls for firing of W.H. staffer
First lady calls for firing of W.H. staffer 03:03

Reporting by CBS News' Fin Gomez, Arden Farhi and Kathryn Watson

Deputy national security adviser Mira Ricardel is at the White House and working Wednesday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters, after First Lady Melania Trump's office issued an unusual statement Tuesday declaring Ricardel no longer belongs in the White House. 

But her future remains uncertain. A senior administration official told CBS News' Fin Gomez that there has been a first lady staff-led fight against Ricardel, particularly on her trip to Africa over seating and utilizing National Security Council resources. The situation shows to what degree the first lady will stand up for her staff, the source said. That source and another White House official say Ricardel has never met the first lady.

The statement from the first lady's spokeswoman Tuesday calling for Ricardel's departure — moments after Ricardel stood alongside the president in the White House Roosevelt Room for a Diwali celebration — came as a shock. 

"It is the position of the Office of the First Lady that she no longer deserves the honor of serving in this White House," Stephanie Grisham, communications director for the first lady, told CBS News in an email Tuesday. 

Grisham also told CBS News that the first lady has never directly met Ricardel, and emphasized that any reports about the first lady and her staff clashing with chief of staff John Kelly and his staff is simply "not true." 

Ricardel has clashed with several White House and administration factions, Gomez reports, including the first lady's office and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis' office during her time at the National Security Council, two administration sources tell Gomez. She has been described as someone who has yelled at staff, and has openly argued with Mattis' team in meetings over policy differences and staffing. 

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