Mira Radielovic Ricardel, previously known as Mira Baratta (born July 5, 1960), is an American government official. She is currently serving as Deputy National Security Advisor to U.S. President Donald Trump, since May 2018. Earlier in the Trump administration, she served as a Special Assistant to the President and Associate Director in the Office of Presidential Personnel, and then Under Secretary of Commerce for Export Administration. Earlier in her career, she served as a foreign policy advisor to U.S. Senator Bob Dole and held higher-level positions in the U.S. Department of Defense during the Presidency of George W. Bush. On April 23, 2018, new U.S. National Security Advisor John R. Bolton named her as his incoming deputy. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Early life and education
Born Mira P. Radielovic, she is of Croatian descent. Her father came from Breza, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and survived the Bleiburg massacre before leaving Yugoslavia in 1954 and arriving in the United States in 1956.
Mira grew up in Pasadena, California, and at home spoke the Croatian language. She also speaks and reads the Serbian language. Her family followed the Croatian Catholic Church and worshipped in Arcadia, California.
Ricardel received her Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Foreign Service from Georgetown University, graduating in 1982. While at Georgetown, she was a member of the Delta Phi Epsilon professional foreign service sorority.
She then did doctoral course work at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, but did not complete her degree. While at the Fletcher School, she met Robert Baratta, who has been involved in aspects of Virginia politics and the federal government. They married and she became known as Mira Baratta.
Politically, Mira has characterized herself as a "Reagan Republican". Her public service began in 1986, working as a congressional affairs specialist and then a deputy director for congressional affairs in the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency at the U.S. Department of State. She served in the State Department until 1989.
From 1989 to 1996, continuing to be known as Mira Baratta, she was legislative assistant to Senate Republican leader Bob Dole, drafting legislation and specializing in foreign affairs and defense policy. She made appearances in public, and her work with Dole earned her a national portrayal in the Weekly Standard in 1995. During the Bosnian War her in-depth personal knowledge of the languages and cultures involved was credited with improving Senator Dole's understanding of the conflict. As one official said, "She knows the issues, so he knows the issues."
Baratta's Croatian heritage brought forth accusations that she was influencing Dole to take an anti-Serbian policy stance. But in fact Dole had a long record of warning about the actions and character of Serbia leader Slobodan Milosevic. Baratta said of Dole in 1999, "He's been out there for a decade saying we need to get involved. And no one's been paying attention. Or they pay attention for a while and manage the problem, but they don't solve it."
Baratta then served as an advisor on defense and foreign policy on Dole's Republican nomination-winning, general election-losing 1996 presidential campaign.
She served as a vice president for programming with the nonprofit organization Freedom House from 1997 to 1998 and as an independent consultant from 1998 to 2000. During some of this time she lived in New York City and was a close neighbor of Monica Lewinsky.
George W. Bush administration
From 2001 to 2003, she was Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs for Eurasia and was responsible for coalition building between the U.S. and governments in the Caucasus, Central Asia, and the Balkans. She received the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service on July 14, 2005.
At some point of a previous time, her marriage to Robert Baratta ended. During this time, she became married to Vincent Ricardel, a photographer; it appears maybe to have taken place around 2002. She became known as Mira Ricardel.
From 2003 to 2005, Ricardel was the acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs. She was the primary adviser to the U.S. Secretary of Defense regarding Europe, Eurasia, NATO, nuclear forces, missile defense, and arms control.
In the words of The Washington Post, "She developed a reputation as a Russia hawk and was seen as a tough bureaucratic player with a strong personality." As Ricardel's nature evidenced during these Pentagon positions, one former colleague from that time later said, "She’s a very tough woman, very smart, does not suffer fools well. And if you happen to be the fool, she will let you know."
After leaving the Defense Department, Ricardel spent one year as Vice President of International Business Development for Teachscape, a company that creates educational training and support.
From 2006-2015, Ricardel was employed by the Boeing Company as Vice President, Strategic Missile & Defense Systems, as well as Vice President of International Business Development, Network and Space Systems. During her time with Boeing she was a resident of Alexandria, Virginia.
In 2015, Ricardel joined Federal Budget IQ as a consultant. Despite the orientation of its work, that of an involved governmental research firm, she was not considered a registered lobbyist.
Donald Trump administration
Trump presidential transition team
Ricardel was a member of Donald Trump's presidential transition team. She was the team's Department of Defense advisor.
She was looked at for positions in the new administration in the Defense and State Departments, but was twice blocked based upon past bureaucratic run-ins, in the first instance by Secretary of Defense James Mattis and in the second by Department of State Chief of Staff Margaret Peterlin. Ricardel had blocked some nominees wanted by Mattis because of potential Democratic ties or having supported Hillary Clinton in the past, instead preferring "Republican loyalists."
Under Secretary of Commerce for Export Administration
So instead, on March 30, 2017, President Trump announced his intent to nominate Ricardel for Under Secretary of Commerce for Export Administration in the U.S. Department of Commerce. On April 28, 2017, Ricardel's nomination was received in the Senate and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. The nomination became emergent from that committee and she was confirmed by the entire U.S Senate on August 3, 2017.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross made a statement in support of Ricardel's actions in the position: "Since coming on board, she has helped keep sensitive technologies out of the hands of those who would do us harm, while also working to ensure that imports do not threaten to impair our national security."
Deputy National Security Advisor
On April 23, 2018, she was named as the next Deputy National Security Advisor by the new National Security Advisor, John R. Bolton. The position did not require Senate confirmation and she took office in the month of May.
One of her first actions was to push for the elimination of the position of White House cybersecurity chief, which took place on May 15, 2018. White House officials quoted Alexander Hamilton in Federalist No. 70 in defending the move, which was criticized by many within the cybersecurity community.
In July 2018 reported difficulties between Ricardel and NSC staffer Jennifer Arangio was one of the factors that led to Arangio's dismissal. Despite past conflicts, the White House said that Ricardel was working effectively with the Mattis-led Defense Department. However, subsequent reports in September 2018 indicated that the Mattis-Ricardel embattlement was still in place, while other reports held that the supposed conflict between the two had been overblown. She continued to be portrayed in the media as a tough bureaucratic opponent.
On November 13, 2018, First Lady Melania Trump, in an unprecedented move by a First Lady, called on Ricardel to be fired from her position. “It is the position of the Office of the First Lady that she no longer deserves the honor of serving in this White House,” a spokesperson wrote. According to the Wall Street Journal, "The first lady’s team told the president that they suspect Ms. Ricardel is behind some negative stories about Mrs. Trump and her staff."
Memberships, awards and honors
Ricardel is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. In 2005, she was awarded the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service.