Written by Katie Rogers and Annie Karni
Stephanie Grisham, Melania Trump’s communications director, will replace Sarah Huckabee Sanders as White House press secretary, continuing the ascent of a former campaign aide who established herself as a loyal and at times combative defender of the Trump family.
Grisham will also take on the added role of communications director, a job that has been vacant since the departure of Bill Shine in March, and will keep her role in the East Wing.
Melania Trump made the announcement Tuesday on Twitter.
While other names were initially floated for the job, President Donald Trump’s choice of Grisham ensured that another loyalist would become the public face of an administration that has been defined by its pugilistic relationships with journalists. But Grisham’s appointment — to a three-in-one role that will include managing overall communications strategy, daily relations with the media and incoming requests for the East Wing — also crystallizes how much the nature of those jobs have changed under Donald Trump.
I am pleased to announce @StephGrisham45 will be the next @PressSec & Comms Director! She has been with us since 2015 – @potus & I can think of no better person to serve the Administration & our country. Excited to have Stephanie working for both sides of the @WhiteHouse. #BeBest
— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) June 25, 2019
For instance, the president did not rely on press aides to explain his decision: He did that on his own. Trump told reporters gathered in the Oval Office Tuesday for an unrelated event that Grisham “has been with me since the beginning” and added that she was well-liked by both White House officials and journalists.
“A lot of people wanted the job,” Trump said. “She’s here, she knows everybody, she actually gets along with the media very well.”
Trump said that Hogan Gidley, a White House spokesman who had the support of Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, during the selection process, would remain in the West Wing as her top deputy. Grisham’s presence in the West Wing will also give Melania Trump a wider window into what goes on in a workplace where the president’s children have outsize influence, according to one senior aide.
“Juggling all three jobs is a bit too much, but in reality, I doubt she’ll be the communications director,” Ari Fleischer, a former press secretary for President George W. Bush, wrote in an email. “No one has yet to play that role in the Trump White House and I have a hard time seeing anyone truly playing it given how the president communicates.”