Melania is now top Trump – Ivanka should sleep with one eye open

Arwa Mahdawi
Melania Trump … one to watch? Photograph: Alex Wong/Getty Images

It is always the quiet ones, isn’t it? And, until recently, Melania Trump was a very quiet one. The first lady of the US preferred to stay out of the public eye and kept a profile so low that there was speculation this year about whether she had gone missing. But now Melania seems to have overcome her aversion to political life. Over the past few months, she has stepped out of the shadows and started to make her voice heard. She has also shown that you cross her at your peril because, if Melania Be Best at anything, it is revenge.

Exhibit one: the cold-blooded murder of Mira Ricardel’s career. Ricardel was appointed as Donald Trump’s deputy national security adviser in April and, since that time, apparently earned the enmity of the first lady. Tensions between the two reportedly reached boiling point during Melania’s trip to Africa in October, when they argued over the seating plan on the plane. Peace in the middle seat being a pressing issue of national security.

While it is not clear who won the inflight battle, Flotus certainly won the war. Last Tuesday (which happened to be World Kindness Day), Melania’s spokeswoman issued a statement calling for Ricardel to be fired. “It is the position of the Office of the First Lady that [Ricardel] no longer deserves the honour of serving in this White House,” the spokeswoman said.

Evidently it is the position of the president to listen to his angry wife because, a day later, Ricardel lost her job. Melania extended some mercy; Ricardel hasn’t been totally banished from Trumpworld but, the White House announced, will be transitioning to a new, unspecified, role in the administration. Cleaning the toilets, perhaps. Or polishing Barron Trump’s boots.

Here’s the thing: the position of first lady doesn’t come with a clearly defined job description. However, there are certain things they are expected to do and issuing public condemnations of high-ranking White House officials is not one of them. Melania’s extraordinary scolding of Ricardel was widely described as unprecedented. While other first ladies have feuded with aides (Nancy Reagan, for example, was considered responsible for ousting her husband’s chief of staff), none of these wars has been waged as publicly as Melania’s. Rebuking Ricardel was a clear assertion of power.

It is also evidence that Melania holds considerable clout in the White House. Indeed, this isn’t the first time she has proved herself to be the top Trump. The New York Times recently reported that the first lady’s trip to Africa caused a showdown with the first daughter. Ivanka Trump had been planning her own photoshoot on the continent and was peeved that Melania’s trip got priority – after all, she is supposed to be Daddy’s favourite! Ivanka was so incensed that it appears she tried to upstage Melania’s photo ops with cute black babies in Africa by posting Instagram videos of herself cradling black children in America at the same time. Yes, you read that right, Ivanka seemingly used black kids as props to spite her stepmother, who was also using black kids as props. Wonderful family, the Trumps.

Anyway, the long and short of all this is that it’s worth keeping an eye on Melania. If I were Ivanka, I’d be sleeping with one eye open. Now Melania has taken down Ricardel I reckon she is only going to get more power-hungry. The first lady seems to be morphing into a modern-day Lady Macbeth.