On Tuesday, it was reported that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, the bad yet beleaguered man currently in charge of somehow creating the illusion that the White House is functioning normally and there is absolutely nothing to see here, y’all!!, may soon be leaving the administration. Part of the reason for his departure? He’s been feuding with, of all people, Melania Trump. And it turns out that Kelly is not the only one Melania has been beefing with.
Let’s start with Melania and John Kelly. What’s the beef between the two?
Apparently, it all stems from what NBC News referred to diplomatically as disputes over “staffing issues and travel requests” and what I would characterize as petty shit that would put any celebrity to shame.
Here are some details on their spat, courtesy of NBC News:
“There have been instances where the East Wing staff were not treated as equals to the male-dominated decision makers in Chief Kelly’s office,” one White House official said. “Promotions were denied then finally granted after months of requests,” the official said.
Melania Trump raised concerns with her husband earlier this year, amid the height of the controversy over his alleged affair with porn actress Stormy Daniels, that Kelly had repeatedly denied her requests to promote some of her aides, two White House officials told NBC News.
The requests languished for months as Kelly insisted there weren’t enough available positions for the first lady’s aides to have senior titles, these people said. During this same period however, West Wing officials working for Kelly received promotions, the White House officials said.
Kelly has also sparred with the East Wing over travel arrangements for the first lady’s staff, people familiar with the issue said. He often wouldn’t reserve space for Melania Trump’s two aides on Air Force One or on helicopters. They would find themselves without hotel rooms and not listed for motorcade movements. The omissions have caused last-minute logistical issues that the first lady viewed as a slight, these people said.
To be fair, some of that does seem pretty annoying, though nothing that a couple minutes on Booking.com couldn’t resolve?
Let’s continue. When Donald Trump learned of the catfight between the First Lady and his Chief of Staff, he ordered Kelly to give her what she wanted. Per a source, Trump told Kelly, “I don’t need this shit.” (Wow, for once, same.)
But Melania hasn’t stopped with Kelly when it comes to picking fights. The NBC News article shares that the First Lady has also gotten into some pretty heated disputes with Mira Ricardel, the deputy national security adviser and war-lover John Bolton’s top aide. Her battles with Ricardel supposedly stem from Melania’s recent colonial nostalgia tour through several African countries—during that trip, she and Ricardel fought over, among other things, whether Melania could use National Security Council resources on her trip, which to my admittedly inexpert eye does not seem like a normal thing that should happen! According to Bloomberg, Ricardel threatened to “withhold National Security Council resources during Melania Trump’s trip to Africa last month unless Ricardel was included in her entourage.” Melania also suspects Ricardel of leaking negative stories about her and her staff to the press, if an unnamed source sharing this tidbit about anonymous leaks is to be believed.
Per reports, Ricardel is on her way out. And all of this White House drama, unleashed on Tuesday upon the poor news-reading public, led to this eminently reasonable statement from Melania’s spokesperson:
Oh, and John Kelly has been trying to oust Ricardel as well. So in summary: Melania is pissed at Ricardel, whom Kelly also hates, but Melania hates Kelly, which brings to mind that oft-repeated maxim, enemy... friend... is enemy? And I haven’t even brought up Kirstjen Nielsen and Jim Mattis who are also bit players in this mess.
Who will end up with whom at the end of this straight-to-VHS teen drama from the 1980s?