Who is Stephanie Grisham? Donald Trump names new press secretary

Sarah Sanders is being replaced by top aide to the first lady

Stephanie Grisham
Stephanie Grisham is currently spokesperson for Melania Trump
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Melania Trump has revealed her husband’s choice to become the next White House press secretary - her own chief spokesperson.

The first lady tweeted: “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.”

See more

Grisham is stepping up as press secretary after Sarah Sanders announced her resignation from the role earlier this month. In addition, Grisham will serve as director of communications, a role formerly held by Bill Shine, who departed the White House in March.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

And to top it off, she will keep her current job, too, according to The Guardian.

To some, Grisham’s promotions make “total and complete sense”, says CNN. As the news network notes, she “has been a member of Trumpworld since the summer of 2015, when she signed on as travelling press secretary”, and the president “always favours those who have displayed the most loyalty to him”.

But Quartz suggests that Grisham is “an unusual choice to represent the nerve centre of the world’s biggest economy and most powerful military”, given the “first lady’s rocky relationship with the press and her falling approval ratings during Grishman’s tenure”.

So who is Stephanie Grisham?

The 42-year-old is “one of the last remaining aides from the presidential campaign who still serves in the White House”, the BBC reports. After Trump was elected, Grisham joined the new president’s press office as a deputy to then-press secretary Sean Spicer, before being promoted to her current role a few months later.

Since then, she has cemented her reputation as a fiercely loyal PR expert for both the president and his wife.

In June 2017, Trump faced a public outcry after tweeting that MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski was “bleeding badly from a facelift”. Grisham rushed to defend his remarks, saying in a statement on behalf of the first lady: “When her husband gets attacked, he will punch back ten times harder.”

A year later, Grisham came out fighting once again, after Melania Trump wore a jacket emblazoned with the words, “I don’t care, do you?”, while visiting an immigration detention centre in Texas. The first lady’s choice of outfit fuelled anger amid “a national outcry over the Trump administration’s policy of separating hundreds of kids from their parents on the border”, reports Quartz.

The “tone-deaf fashion statement seemed like something her public relations staff could have prevented”, the news site adds. But Grisham hit back at the critics, saying the media should focus on her employer’s “actions and efforts to help kids” rather than her clothes.

This defensive approach is nothing new to Grisham. Her previous roles including handling press for Tom Horne, then attorney general for Arizona, when it was “alleged that he essentially ran his 2014 re-election campaign out of his official office while paid by taxpayers”, says Sky News.

“She aggressively defended Mr Horne, denying that his staff had violated laws that ban campaigning using public money,” the broadcaster adds.

Grisham also worked on Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign, and before that ran her own small public relations firm and worked as a spokesperson for US organisations including the American Automobile Association (AAA).

What kind of press secretary will she make?

Experts are torn over whether Grisham will re-expand the scope of the White House press secretary role, after Sanders sought to whittle down her duties.

Yahoo! News reports that after taking over from Spicer in July 2017, Sanders succeeded in “virtually ending the practice of regular public briefings that were a major responsibility of her predecessors”.

Indeed, on the day Grisham was announced as her successor, Sanders had not briefed reporters in the White House briefing room for more than 100 days.

Sanders’ impending departure has also triggered a flood of stories “about all the times she has lied or misrepresented the truth when speaking to the press”, adds Vice News.

Sources told Yahoo! News that the White House would probably “continue this approach”, with Grisham continuing to act as an “aggressive defender”.

CNN agrees that Trump’s time in office has only “reaffirmed his distrust” of the media and outsiders, and “convinced him that he can only really trust the people who were with him from the beginning”.

But other commentators believe Grisham may seek to improve White House relations with the press. According to The Washington Post, her experience in PR has helped her form a good rapport with White House reporters.

Yahoo News! points out that during the 2016 election and the presidential transition, she did “press advance work and spent extended periods of time with the reporters on the Trump beat”.

Speaking about her time with Trump’s press corps, Grisham has said: “We would wake up together in the same hotel, we would fly on the same airplane together, we would end up night together at the same hotel.”

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.