Ousted Bolton aide says it was 'an honor' to serve Trump administration

Ousted Bolton aide says it was 'an honor' to serve Trump administration

A White House aide who was ousted this week after clashing with first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpClarence Thomas, Joe Manchin, Rudy Giuliani among guests at second state visit under Trump The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump pushes back over whistleblower controversy White House releases menu for Australian state dinner MORE said Thursday she admires both Trumps and that it was “an honor” to serve in the administration. 

Deputy national security adviser Mira Ricardel's comments come one day after she was reassigned following an unusual statement from the first lady's office calling for her firing.  

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“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,” Ricardel said in a statement. 

Ricardel reportedly argued with East Wing staff over seats on government aircraft for the first lady's trip to Africa last month. The first lady's team then accused Ricardel, who helped coordinate the visit, of spreading negative stories about Melania Trump. 

“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, a spokesman for Melania Trump, said in a statement Tuesday. 

A White House official pushed back on those reports, saying that Ricardel has never met the first lady. The official said Ricardel was thought to be respected on the National Security Council (NSC).

The dispute sparked an awkward standoff at the White House, with national security adviser John Bolton scrambling on Wednesday to save his top deputy, who is also one of the highest-ranking women in the administration. 

Bolton hired Ricardel in May to serve as his top deputy on the NSC. She became known as a fierce bureaucratic infighter, clashing with White House chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE and Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump takes 2020 roadshow to New Mexico Trump needs a national security adviser who 'speaks softly' US could deploy 150 troops to Syria: report MORE before butting heads with the first lady's staff. 

Bolton, who is traveling with Vice President Pence in Asia, sent an email to staff Thursday lauding Ricardel.  

“I am deeply grateful for all Mira has done on behalf of the NSC, her deep knowledge of the national security issues we confront daily, and her unwavering commitment to the president,” Bolton wrote, according to a senior NSC official. 

The White House announced on Wednesday evening that Ricardel will “transition to a new role within the administration,“ but did not specify her new job. 

“The president is grateful for Ms. Ricardel’s service to the American people and her steadfast pursuit of his national security priorities,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. 

Ricardel's ouster has added to the record level of turnover within the Trump White House and comes as President TrumpDonald John TrumpJulián Castro: It's time for House Democrats to 'do something' about Trump Warren: Congress is 'complicit' with Trump 'by failing to act' Sanders to join teachers, auto workers striking in Midwest MORE is weighing a broader shakeup of his staff and Cabinet. 

John Bowden contributed to this post, which was updated Friday at 8:34 a.m.