White House press sec­re­tary and com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor named

Lodi News-Sentinel - - STATE/NATION - By John T. Ben­nett

WASH­ING­TON — Stephanie Gr­isham, who has been a top aide to first lady Melania Trump, will be the next White House press sec­re­tary and com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor.

The first lady an­nounced the move in a tweet af­ter Sarah Huck­abee San­ders an­nounced ear­lier this month that she would leave the post. Fri­day will be San­ders’ last day.

The pres­i­dent “and I can think of no bet­ter per­son to serve the Ad­min­is­tra­tion & our coun­try,” wrote the first lady, who then sug­gested Gr­isham will play an un­con­ven­tional role by “work­ing for both sides of the @WhiteHouse.”

The West and East wings tra­di­tion­ally have had sep­a­rate com­mu­ni­ca­tions of­fices, though they do work closely to­gether.

The tim­ing of the an­nounce­ment was cu­ri­ous. It came just min­utes af­ter news broke that John San­ders, act­ing head of the em­bat­tled U.S. Cus­toms and Bor­der Pa­trol, was step­ping down amid new rev­e­la­tions of mi­grant chil­dren liv­ing in squalor un­der the agency’s watch.

That marked a fit­ting — al­most — end to Huck­abee San­ders’ run. It in­cluded nu­mer­ous false and mis­lead­ing state­ments, the end of daily White House press brief­ings that have been re­placed by chaotic gag­gles in a drive­way near the West Wing, and deep ill will be­tween the com­mu­ni­ca­tions of­fice and the press corps. San­ders re­cently told a group of re­porters that she does not re­gret end­ing the daily brief­ings in the James A. Brady Brief­ing Room, and de­clined to say what her tough­est day on the job was.

Gr­isham beat out sev­eral in­ter­nal can­di­dates, in­clud­ing J. Ho­gan Gi­d­ley, prin­ci­pal deputy press sec­re­tary, and strate­gic com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor Mercedes Sch­lapp. Also in the run­ning was for­mer State De­part­ment spokes­woman Heather Nauert, who ear­lier this year with­drew her name as nom­i­nee for U.S. am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions.

Another lead­ing can­di­date was out­go­ing Trea­sury De­part­ment spokesman Tony Sayegh, who at one point had been con­sid­ered for White House com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor.

In giv­ing Gr­isham both jobs, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump fi­nally has re­placed for­mer Fox News ex­ec­u­tive Bill Shine, whom he pushed out as com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor in Fe­bru­ary.

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