Stephanie Grisham is leaving her role as White House press secretary after nine months on the job and returning to the East Wing as chief of staff to First Lady Melania Trump, according to a White House statement Tuesday.
Melania announced that is “excited” to welcome Grisham “back to the team” full time as Chief of Staff and Spokesperson, saying Grisham “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.”
The statement added that the first lady’s current chief of staff, Lindsay Reynolds resigned earlier this week to spend time with her family.
Grisham had previously served as the first lady’s press secretary before replacing Sarah Sanders as White House press secretary last summer. While serving as press secretary, Grisham had retained her role as Melania spokeswoman and both ladies remained extremely close, speaking to one another frequently on a daily basis.
In the statement Grisham said her replacements would be announced “in the coming days” and that she would remain in the West Wing “to help with a smooth transition for as long as needed.”
“I continue to be honored to serve both the President and First Lady in the Administration,” Grisham said. “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.”
In her tenure as White House press secretary, Grisham never held a traditional press briefing in the White House press room and rarely engaged in gaggles with reporters on camera. She was interviewed frequently on Fox News, which she appeared from the Washington bureau station and by smaller conservative media outlets.
Trump last month during the White House press briefing acknowledged he was displeased with his White House’s communication effort in managing getting out information about the coronavirus to the press.
“We’ve done a poor job on press relationships, and I guess, I don’t know who to blame for that,” Trump said. “Maybe I can blame ourselves for that. I will blame ourselves. But I think we’ve done a great job. I think we’ve done a poor job in terms of press relationship.”
According to a senior administration official, national press secretary for Trump’s 2020 campaign, Kayleigh McEnany will replace Grisham as press secretary, and Pentagon spokeswoman Alyssa Farah will take over Grisham’s other West Wing role as director of strategic communications. Farah was communications director for the House Freedom Caucus and was Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary before she took the Pentagon job as a spokesperson in August. Ben Williamson, a senior aide to Trump’s new chief of staff Mark Meadows, will take over the role as senior adviser for communications.
The move comes after Meadows had privately discussed was reported to shake up the communications office. He privately discussed the possibility of replacing Grisham during the time she was under self-quarantine following her exposure to a Brazilian official at Mar-a-Lago March 7 who later tested positive for the coronavirus.
The overhaul, according to the official is aimed at expanding the White House Press office that is better equipped to deal with communications needs and play a “much bigger role with the media” during the coronavirus pandemic that has taken over the news coverage worldwide. Meadows is reportedly interested in restoring more regular press briefing and having a visible press secretary to engage in gaggles with reporters on and off camera.