WASHINGTON — Stephanie Grisham is leaving her role as White House press secretary after serving in the position for less than a year and will return to her previous job as a spokesperson for first lady Melania Trump as well as her chief of staff, the first lady announced Tuesday.
“I am excited to welcome Stephanie back to the team in this new role,” the first lady said in a statement. “She has been a mainstay and true leader in the administration from even before day one, and I know she will excel as chief of staff."
Grisham took over as President Donald Trump’s third White House press secretary last July, succeeding Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Sean Spicer had the job for the first few months of Trump’s presidency.
"I continue to be honored to serve both the president and first lady in the administration,” Grisham said in the statement. “My replacements will be announced in the coming days, and I will stay in the West Wing to help with a smooth transition for as long as needed.”
During the more than nine months that Grisham served as Trump’s top spokesperson, she never briefed the press a formal briefing at the White House.
Her departure comes amid the coronavirus crisis and as the Trump administration faces increasing criticism that it was not prepared to combat the outbreak and has not provided states with adequate supplies for health care workers on the front lines.
For the last few weeks, Trump himself has come to the White House briefing room and has spoken directly to reporters from the podium along with other members of the White House coronavirus task force. Grisham has not participated in these briefings.
Grisham is also leaving just a few days after Mark Meadows took over as Trump’s White House chief of staff. Axios reported last week that Meadows had been privately discussing bringing on Pentagon spokeswoman Alyssa Farah or Trump campaign spokesperson Kayleigh McEnany as a new White House press secretary.
Grisham, however, told Axios, “Sounds like more palace intrigue to me, but I’ve also been in quarantine. If true, how ironic that the press secretary would hear about being replaced in the press.”
The 43-year-old self-quarantined after coming in contact with a Brazilian official who tested positive for coronavirus, but her test came back negative.
Grisham previously worked as communications director for the first lady. She had joined Trump's campaign in 2015 and also worked on the 2012 presidential campaign for Mitt Romney.