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White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham will be stepping down from her role and returning to the First Lady’s office, where she will serve as Melania Trump’s spokesperson and Chief of Staff, the White House said in a statement Tuesday morning.
The White House was rumored, as recently as a week ago, to be making a move in the press office, but Grisham denied reports. Tuesday morning, however, it became clear Grisham, who never held a single press conference as the president’s spokeswoman and head of the White House communications department, would be redeployed.
New White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Business Insider says, made the decision to swap out Grisham as part of a full Oval Office “reorganization.” No other senior staff changes have been announced just yet but are expected.
To take Grisham’s place, the White House tapped former Trump campaign surrogate Kayleigh McEnany, who had been working on the president’s 2020 re-election campaign.
“McEnany will be Trump’s fourth press secretary in under four years, succeeding Grisham, Sarah Sanders, and Sean Spicer in a communications office that has been marred by turnover,” BI reported Tuesday. “McEnany has been a constant presence in the pro-Trump media and political sphere, going to bat for the president since the 2016 presidential election and onward.”
Although McEnany is best known as a CNN political pundit, she has served in a variety of everyday political roles, most notably as an intern and then campaign official for President George W. Bush. She went on to work for Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee before becoming a surrogate for then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in 2016.
Grisham will not leave her role immediately, as the White House wants to make the transition as smooth as possible amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which has seen Trump rise to the job of being his own best public relations specialist.
“I continue to be honored to serve both the President and First Lady in the Administration,” Grisham said in a statement to media Tuesday morning. “My replacements will be announced in the coming days and I will stay in the West Wing to help with a smooth transition for as long as needed.”
Grisham was sharply criticized by members of the media for failing to hold a “daily briefing,” which had become commonplace under the Obama administration, when the media was much friendlier and less aggressive toward the White House. When the briefings became contentions — almost daily knock-downs between the press and the Press Secretary — the White House press office stopped holding the events, preferring to schedule press conferences only when needed.
Lately, though, the president has been holding his own daily press conference to update the nation on the Federal response to coronavirus — a development that the perennially unsatisfied press corps has also criticized sharply. Some members of the media have even called for Trump’s daily briefings to be left off air, so as to avoid “confusing” Americans with “disinformation.”
The First Lady’s office, at least, is happy to welcome Grisham back.
“I am excited to welcome Stephanie back to the team in this new role,” the First Lady said Tuesday. “She has been a mainstay and true leader in the Administration from even before day one, and I know she will excel as Chief of Staff.”