POLITICS
06/25/2019 12:55 EDT | Updated 06/25/2019 17:00 EDT

Melania Trump Spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham To Be White House Press Secretary

Grisham, who has headed the first lady's press office since 2017, will replace Sarah Huckabee Sanders and also serve as White House communications director.

Stephanie Grisham, a spokeswoman for first lady Melania Trump, will replace Sarah Huckabee Sanders as White House press secretary, the first lady announced Tuesday. 

Grisham will also serve as White House communications director, a position that has been vacant since former Fox News executive Bill Shine stepped down in March to advise President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign.

“I can think of no better person to serve the Administration & our country,” Melania Trump tweeted Tuesday. 

Grisham has served in the first lady’s office since March 2017, when she was brought on as communications director. Last year, she was promoted to deputy chief of staff for communications.

Before moving to the East Wing, Grisham worked as deputy press secretary for then-White House press secretary Sean Spicer. She previously served on Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and on his transition team following the election.

The president announced Sanders’ departure from the White House in a tweet earlier this month, lauding her as “a very special person with extraordinary talents.”

“After 3 1/2 years, our wonderful Sarah Huckabee Sanders will be leaving the White House at the end of the month and going home to the Great State of Arkansas,” he tweeted. “Sarah, thank you for a job well done!”

He described Grisham as “terrific” when asked on “Fox & Friends” earlier this month whether she was a contender for Sanders’ old position.

Sanders applauded Grisham’s move to the West Wing on Tuesday and predicted the mother of two would do “an incredible job” in her new position.

“I’m sad to leave the WH, but happy that our team is in such good hands,” Sanders tweeted. “I’m so proud that another mom and a great friend will be taking over. The President and the country are lucky to have her!”

Grisham has built a reputation among White House staffers and reporters as the first lady’s “enforcer,” according to The Washington Post. She has aggressively defended Melania Trump amid some of her most controversial moments.

For instance, in June 2018, the first lady infamously wore a green jacket emblazoned with the words, “I REALLY DON’T CARE, DO U?” while traveling to Texas to visit a detention facility housing children who had been separated from their parents. 

Grisham snapped at the media over its coverage of that bizarre wardrobe choice, stating there was “no hidden meaning” and that reporters should focus on the first lady’s work and not her clothing.

“After today’s important visit to Texas, I hope the media isn’t going to choose to focus on her wardrobe. (Much like her high heels last year),” Grisham said in a statement, referring to the first lady’s choice to wear Manolo Blahnik stilettos in 2017 while visiting Hurricane Harvey-stricken Houston.

Grisham’s loyalty to the Trumps once drew scrutiny from the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, a federal watchdog agency unrelated to the office formerly operated by special counsel Robert Mueller.

The OSC issued her a warning letter for violating the Hatch Act, a law that prohibits government employees from engaging in a political campaign, after she tweeted in July 2018 about her three-year anniversary working for Team Trump.

Asked for comment about the opinion, Grisham told CNN that she stood by her tweet. “Since Day 1, I’ve been proud to work for this President, this first lady, and this administration,” she told the outlet.

Prior to joining Trump’s camp, she worked on Mitt Romney’s failed 2012 presidential campaign and as the spokeswoman for the Arizona attorney general’s office.

In 2016, during her tenure as the spokeswoman for the Arizona House Republicans, Grisham faced backlash for revoking reporters’ media credentials after they refused to consent to background checks.

Grisham said at the time that requiring background checks for reporters was part of a new policy to secure the state House floor. But some media outlets forcefully disagreed with the decision.

Jim Small, editor of Arizona News Service, which publishes the Arizona Capitol Times, blasted Grisham and the state House GOP for pulling his reporters’ press passes, calling the move “an attack on the press.”

“[It’s] direct retaliation against us and one of our reporters who exposed how House Speaker David Gowan was using state vehicles to crisscross the state and advance his congressional bid,” Small wrote in an op-ed in the Capitol Times.

“[T]his sweeping policy has less to do with security than it does with retribution against a reporter who dared to investigate the most powerful person in the chamber,” he wrote.

This story has been updated with information about Grisham’s tenure as a spokeswoman for the Arizona House Republicans.