WASHINGTON, DC — Melania Trump announced Tuesday that Stephanie Grisham, her longtime spokeswoman and confidante, will succeed Sarah Sanders as White House press secretary.
Grisham is jumping right into her new role by accompanying President Donald Trump on a trip to Asia starting Wednesday.
Before joining Trump's campaign, Grisham worked in Republican politics in Arizona as a spokeswoman and communications adviser for elected officials facing scandals. Grisham was the press aide to the then-speaker of the Arizona House, David Gowan, when he set off a contentious fight with journalists over access to the House chamber in 2016.
Gowan abruptly shifted a decades-old policy and barred reporters from the House floor unless they submitted to extensive criminal and civil background checks. He reversed course after an outcry from journalists, the public and other lawmakers.
Grisham also handled press for then-Attorney General Tom Horne when a former staffer alleged that Horne and his senior aides essentially ran his 2014 reelection campaign out of his official office while paid by taxpayers.
Grisham aggressively defended Horne, denying that his staff had violated laws that ban campaigning on the public's dime.
Grisham has been with Trump since he launched his presidential bid in 2015 and is one of the few campaign officials still at the White House.
"Stephanie has been with me from the beginning, as most of you know," Trump told reporters during an unrelated White House event. "And then over the last couple years she's worked for the first lady, done a fantastic job. The first lady loves her, thinks she's been, you know, just incredible.
She's very talented." In addition to becoming White House press secretary, Grisham will also take on the role of White House communications director, a strategic and forward-looking role that has been vacant since March, when former Fox News Channel executive Bill Shine departed.
Grisham will accompany Trump to Japan and South Korea starting Wednesday, a trip that includes Trump's meetings with the leaders of China and Russia.
The first lady announced the news on Twitter, saying she "can think of no better person to serve the Administration & our country." "Excited to have Stephanie working for both sides of the @WhiteHouse," Mrs. Trump said. Grisham worked directly for Trump after he took office in January 2017 as deputy press secretary in the West Wing.
In March, she was tapped to run communications for the first lady and relocated to the East Wing. Grisham will continue to serve the first lady, making for a total of three top jobs. Sanders, whose last day at the White House is Friday, will be remembered mostly for ending daily White House briefings and sparring with reporters.
Trump seemed to suggest relations would not be as contentious under Grisham's leadership. "She actually gets along with the media," the president told reporters. He said Grisham accepted the job after he offered it Tuesday morning.