Donald Trump taps top Melania aide to replace Sarah Sanders as White House press secretary

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Stephanie Grisham will begin her duties on a trip to Asia with US President Donald Trump.

Melania Trump has announced that Stephanie Grisham, her longtime spokeswoman and confidante, will succeed Sarah Sanders as White House press secretary.

Key points:

  • Donald Trump has suggested relations with media will improve under Ms Grisham
  • As well as her two new roles with the White House Ms Grisham will continue to serve Melania Trump
  • Her job will begin on a trip with the president to the G20 summit in Japan

Ms Grisham has been with US President Donald Trump team 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,” Mr 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, Ms Grisham will also take on the job 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.

Ms Sanders had essentially been doing both roles as well, without the communications director title.

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Trump says Grisham will do a “great job” as press secretaryABC NEWS

‘Working for both sides of the White House’

Mr Trump told reporters he offered Ms Grisham the job on Tuesday morning.

“I think she’s going to do a great job,” he said. “It’s a big job. It’s a very big job.”

Ms Grisham has a busy start lined up and will accompany Mr Trump to the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, and Seoul, South Korea, starting on Wednesday, a trip that includes the president’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”.

Ms Grisham, 42, has been a fixture in the Arizona Republican Party, and was one of Mr Trump’s first hires for his presidential campaign — as a press aide in 2015.

She has worked directly for Mr Trump before, serving as a deputy press secretary in the White House when he took office in January 2017 before moving over to the first lady’s operation.

Fiercely loyal to the Trumps, Ms Grisham will continue to serve the first lady, making for a total of three top jobs.

“Excited to have Stephanie working for both sides of the White House,” Ms Trump said.

Melania Trump sits next to her Communications Director Stephanie Grisham in orange lighting.

‘She actually gets along with the media’

Ms Grisham replaces another of Mr Trump’s closest and most trusted White House aides in Sarah Sanders.

Ms Sanders, whose last day at the White House is Friday, will be remembered mostly for ending daily White House briefings and sparring with reporters.

Mr Trump seemed to suggest relations would not be as contentious under Ms Grisham’s leadership.

“She actually gets along with the media,” the President said.

When Ms Sanders announced she was stepping down to spend more time with her three sons, speculation immediately turned to whether she might run for governor of Arkansas, a position once held by her father, Mike Huckabee.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders listens to a question.

Mr Trump has encouraged her to run when she returns to her home state.

Ms Sanders succeeded Sean Spicer, Mr Trump’s first press secretary, in 2017.

The other top candidate had been Ms Sanders’ principal deputy press secretary, Hogan Gidley.

The president said Mr Gidley had recommended Ms Grisham for the job, and that Mr Gidley will be staying in his deputy role.

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