Stephanie Grisham, communications director for First Lady Melania Trump and a former deputy press secretary for President Donald Trump, has been selected to replace outgoing White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
Melania Trump announced the news in a tweet using the hashtag #BeBest in reference to her campaign for online safety: "I am pleased to announce @StephGrisham45 will be the next @PressSec & Comms Director!" she wrote, "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."
During her tenure with the first lady, Grisham developed a reputation as a fiercely loyal employee, known for keeping the East Wing "relatively free of leaks," as The New York Times put it. She's also made a name for herself as a dogged defender of the first family, with a combative nature. Here's everything you need to know about Grisham.
The Washington PostGetty Images
She's one of the last remaining aides from Donald Trump’s campaign.
Few in the Trump administration have a history with the first family that dates as far back as Grisham’s does. She joined the president's campaign back in 2015. The only person who has been with team Trump as long as she has is Dan Scavino, the White House's director of social media and an assistant to the president, who also started on the Trump campaign in 2015.
Before that, she worked in communications in her home state of Arizona and was a political operative for Mitt Romney's 2012 campaign for president. After helping out with a 2015 Trump rally in Phoenix, she joined his team as a traveling press director.
“During the campaign she developed a good relationship with the president, and that’s carried through,” Sanders said of Grisham in an interview last year, according to The Washington Post. “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.”
After Trump was elected, Grisham worked in the West Wing as a deputy to his then-press secretary, Sean Spicer.
According to CNN, Grisham, "soon caught the eye of first lady Melania Trump, who was impressed by Grisham's assistance during the first visit of Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie Abe to Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, in February 2017."
In March 2017, she became the first lady's communications director.
The Washington PostGetty Images
She's developed a reputation as a caustic defender of the first lady.
Grisham received the moniker, "the enforcer," in a Washington Post profile for her extreme defenses of the first lady. After the president attacked MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski in 2017, claiming she was "bleeding badly from a facelift," Grisham gave this statement: "When her husband gets attacked, he will punch back 10 times harder."
During the Stormy Daniels debacle, she tweeted, "While I know the media is enjoying speculation & salacious gossip, I'd like to remind people there's a minor child who's name should be kept out of news stories when at all possible."
Then, when the president’s first wife Ivana Trump referred to herself as the "first lady," Grisham put out this rather acerbic statement: "Mrs. Trump has made the White House a home for Barron and the President. She loves living in Washington, DC, and is honored by her role as first lady of the United States. She plans to use her title and role to help children, not sell books. There is clearly no substance to this statement from an ex, this is unfortunately only attention-seeking and self-serving noise."
Grisham wrote an op-ed criticizing the media's coverage of Melania Trump.
The piece appeared in CNN and can be read in full, here:
The media consistently ignores the first lady's work on behalf of the people of this country, and children in particular, in favor of more trivial matters. And my defense, here, of the first lady will certainly draw criticism and be framed as another assault on the press, but this predictable reaction won't make my observations any less true.
Of course, absurdity abounds in the media's coverage of our first lady. Reports focus on the trivial and superficial, rather than the deeper issues facing our country that the she has tirelessly worked to address. Last year, when Mrs. Trump traveled to Texas to comfort and support the people affected by hurricanes, the media focused on thepair of heels she wore to board Air Force One.
David Hume KennerlyGetty Images
David Hume KennerlyGetty Images
She demanded the firing of a top National Security Council staffer—and got it.
According to The Washington Post, when deputy national security adviser Mira Ricardel clashed with the first lady’s staff last fall, Grisham—reportedly without approval from the West Wing—released 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.”
A few days later, Ricardel left the White House.
She will be President Trump’s third press secretary in less than three years.
His first press secretary was Sean Spicer, a strategist for the Republican National Committee, who resigned from his post quit after just six months and one day on the job.
The job was totally transformed under Trump's second press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who slowly phased out daily press briefings, traditionally a staple of the job. It's currently been 105 days since the White House has held a traditional press briefing.
It remains to be seen how Grisham will approach press briefings. In addition to her role as press secretary, she will also act as White House director of communications. The role was formerly held by Bill Shine, who departed as White House communications director in March.
According to CNN, she will be accompanying the president on his forthcoming trips to Japan and Korea this week.
Rose MinutaglioStaff WriterRose is a Staff Writer at ELLE.com covering culture, news, and women's issues.
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