Trump Campaign Official to Replace Grisham as Press Secretary

WASHINGTON (CN) — After nine months on the job without ever holding a press conference, Stephanie Grisham was removed Tuesday as White House press secretary.

Standing behind members of the Secret Service, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham (right) stands with deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley, counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway, at the White House on July 24, 2019.
(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Kayleigh McEnany, who has been serving as the press secretary of President Donald Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign, will replace Grisham, according to CNN and other press reports quoting an anonymous senior official in the administration.

McEnany is also a former spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee.

Grisham became press secretary after a stint as first lady Melania Trump’s spokeswoman. She will now serve as the first lady’s chief of staff — the latest shakeup to the administration communications team following the appointment of Mark Meadows as White House chief of staff.

McEnany, 31, a Harvard Law School graduate, comes into the role at a time when the coronavirus is wracking the United States and the world. The U.S. death toll now exceeds 11,000, and there are more than 350,000 confirmed cases. 

It is unclear if McEnany will model her tenure after Grisham’s and fail to hold regular press briefings or if she will take a more proactive role during a time of crisis. In recent weeks, nightly press conferences at the White House hosted by the coronavirus task force are regularly tense affairs as the president fields questions from reporters directly. A longtime administration stalwart like McEnany could prove useful to the president, but whether she will play a specific role in this aspect of White House communications is still unclear.  

A representative from the White House did not return multiple requests for comment Tuesday. 

Appearing on networks like CNN in 2016 to heap accolades on the then-candidate Trump, McEnany now makes more regular appearances on Fox News and can often be found offering commentary or full-throated support for the president. Recently, on Feb. 25, even as the coronavirus was rapidly unfurling in the United States McEnany suggested in a Fox News appearance that President Trump’s leadership would guarantee Americans “would not see the coronavirus come here.” 

The White House communications team will also reportedly see the return of Alyssa Farah, who had moved over to the Department of Defense as a senior spokeswoman after a stint working for Vice President Mike Pence.  

McEnany is the fourth press secretary at the White House. Her predecessor, Grisham, had replaced Sarah Huckabee Sanders. The president’s first press secretary, Sean Spicer, resigned in July 2017 following a turbulent six-month tenure. 

Grisham’s ouster was reportedly expected after Mark Meadows retired from Congress last month and officially transitioned from serving as North Carolina’s Republican representative to White House chief of staff. Meadows replaced then-acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. 

A fierce defender of the Trump administration, Meadows was tapped by the president in January to provide assistance and advice to the White House’s legal team during impeachment proceedings at the House of Representatives.

Meadows and other lawmakers like Representatives Jim Jordan of Ohio, Debbie Lesko of Arizona, Doug Collins of Georgia, John Ratcliffe of Texas, Mike Johnson of Louisiana and Elise Stefanik and Lee Zeldin of New York would meet regularly with members of the White House during the inquiry. 

Meadows also personally logged several hours on Fox News during the inquiry, appearing regularly to defend the president or dismiss suggestions that new witnesses were warranted at Trump’s trial in the Senate.

Meadows’ ascendancy within the administration seems a natural next step for the former lawmaker. Though Meadows did not endorse Trump in 2016, once elected, Trump and Meadows’ mutual agreements on the need for increased border-wall funding and tougher immigration laws solidified their alliance. 

Meadows, once chair of the right-leaning House Freedom Caucus, was also among the most vocal lawmakers to call for the resignation of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein during the Mueller probe, saying that Rosenstein’s oversight of the probe was biased against the president.

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