Can The First Lady Actually Fire Anyone?

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 26: U.S. first lady Melania Trump hosts a reception in honor of United Nations General Assembly attendees at the U.S mission to the UN building on September 26, 2018 in New York City
Michael Loccisano / Getty Images

Melania Trump made headlines Tuesday when she publicly called for a staffer at the National Security Council to be fired. The first lady has asked that Mira Ricardel to be let go from her government job. Ricardel is the top deputy for National Security Advisor John Bolton, according to Vox.

Reports say that Melania Trump clashed with Ricardel during the First Lady’s well-publicized trip to Africa. Ricardel previously served in George W. Bush’s administration as deputy assistant secretary of defense. She was also part of Trump’s White House transition team.

CNN is reporting that Donald Trump has decided to respond to Melania’s request; he will be firing Ricardel. Reportedly, she is being given time to clean out her desk. This is a best-case scenario for Melania, who does not have any official authority inside the White House.

Being the first lady is not an actual job, though some believe they have a bigger role to play. The first lady does not have official responsibilities, and throughout history, these women have all navigated the role in their own way. While the president of the United States earns a salary, the first lady does not, according to Metro. This is not a paid position, though the first lady is given her own office space and staff within the White House.

It’s also not an option to simply refuse to be first lady. If your husband is elected President, you’re the first lady and that’s it. Michelle Obama gave up a six-figure salary to join husband Barack in the White House, and Hillary Clinton resigned as a partner in a law firm when Bill became president of the United States. The unwritten rule for first ladies is that they are the hostesses of the White House.

But since the first lady is not an actual job, the first lady does not have the power to fire staffers. The best Melania can hope for is that Donald Trump will fire people based on her recommendation — and that seems to be happening right now.

In a statement released Tuesday by the first lady’s communications director, Melania said that Ricardel “no longer deserves the honor of serving in this White House,” according to CNN.

Some media reports are saying that Ricardel has already been escorted off the White House grounds, though a senior official has denied these reports. Insiders say that Melania and Ricardel argued over seating on the plane during the first lady’s trip to Africa, and also had a disagreement about how to use National Security Council resources.