WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump is weighing making changes in up to five Cabinet posts, although he did not rule out that ultimately he might make only two changes in an excerpt from an interview with Fox News released on Sunday.
“I have three or four or five positions that I’m thinking about. Of that, maybe it’s going to end up being two. But I need flexibility,” said Trump in an interview on his favorite cable television network, to be fully aired on Sunday.
However, the president said that the White House is “running like a well-oiled machine,” adding that he is happy with his Cabinet, apart from a couple of exceptions, but even so he was not dissatisfied.
In recent days, there has been speculation about the possibility that Trump might fire several key officials, including Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and/or Chief of Staff John Kelly.
Regarding Nielsen, Trump said “I like her a lot. I respect her a lot. She is very smart. I want her to get much tougher and we’ll see what happens there.”
According to local media outlets, Trump, who defends the tough line he has taken on immigration policy, is unhappy with Nielsen’s management of migration matters along the southern border with Mexico.
Regarding Kelly, the president admitted that there are things he likes about him and others that he does not, saying “Certain things I love that he does and there are certain things I don’t love. There a couple of things that just aren’t his strength.”
Trump also spoke about the departure last week of deputy White House National Security Adviser Mira Ricardel after the office of first lady Melania Trump openly called for her dismissal.
Trump said he did not know Ricardel well, adding that she was “not too diplomatic, but she’s talented.”
Regarding the unprecedented statement last week from Mrs. Trump’s spokesperson, Stephanie Grisham that Ricardel no longer “deserves the honor” of serving in the White House, Trump said: “(The first lady’s team) wanted to go a little bit public because that’s the way they felt and I thought it was fine.”
The press reported that Ricardel clashed with the first lady’s personnel over a question regarding her trip to Africa in October.
On that subject, Trump emphasized that his wife had done great work on her Africa tour.