July 16, 2019
National Politics Latest News | Jonathan Buck | Bangor Metro | Climate Change | Today's Paper

First lady’s communications director to succeed Sarah Sanders as White House press secretary

Jacquelyn Martin | AP
Jacquelyn Martin | AP
Stephanie Grisham, spokeswoman for first lady Melania Trump, watches as President Donald Trump and the first lady greet attendees during the annual Congressional Picnic on the South Lawn in Washington, June 21, 2019. First lady Melania Trump has announced that Grisham will be the new White House press secretary. Grisham, who has been with President Donald Trump since 2015, will also take on the role of White House communications director.

WASHINGTON — Stephanie Grisham, who has served as first lady Melania Trump’s fiercely loyal communications director, will succeed Sarah Sanders as White House press secretary, the White House said Tuesday.

The move was first announced by Melania Trump in a tweet and later confirmed by White House officials. In addition to succeeding Sanders, Grisham will also take on the duties of White House communications director, a job that has been vacant since March.

“She has been with us since 2015 – @potus & I can think of no better person to serve the Administration & our country,” the first lady said in her tweet.

Trump announced two weeks ago that Sanders, whose tenure was marked by controversy and questions about her credibility, would be leaving at the end of the month. In a tweet, he said she would be returning home to Arkansas.

Grisham is one of Trump’s last remaining campaign aides serving in the White House. Before becoming the first lady’s communications director, she worked in the West Wing under Trump’s first press secretary, Sean Spicer.

Grisham previously was a local political operative who had worked on Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign for president.

“During the campaign she developed a good relationship with the president, and that’s carried through,” Sanders said of Grisham in an interview late last year. “She has developed a great amount of trust from both the president and the first lady, which is a pretty high commodity here. There aren’t a lot of people who have a lot of regular interaction with both of them.”

During her tenure with the first lady, Grisham has developed a combative reputation with the press as well as inside the administration.

In preparation for Melania Trump’s first solo trip abroad, which she took to Africa last fall, deputy national security adviser Mira Ricardel clashed with members of the first lady’s staff. Upon their return, Grisham and the first lady’s chief of staff, Lindsay Reynolds, approached White House Chief of Staff John Kelly about the issue.

When he took no apparent action, Grisham spoke directly to Melania Trump, who in turn spoke to her husband privately. Then, when still nothing happened, Grisham suggested to the first lady a different strategy: Without giving the West Wing warning, Grisham put out a statement: “It is the position of the Office of the First Lady that she no longer deserves the honor of serving in this White House.”

Within days, Ricardel was out of the White House.

Washington Post writers Josh Dawsey and Sarah Ellison contributed to this report.

 



Have feedback? Want to know more? Send us ideas for follow-up stories.

You may also like