The newly named White House press secretary’s work history in the Trump administration could prompt some questions about what she may prioritize in her new, much higher-profile role than the one she was leaving.
Stephanie Grisham was set to succeed Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who left her post in disgrace after repeatedly lying to the American people during press briefings. Grisham had been serving as director of communications for Melania Trump for the past two years before the first lady made the White House personnel announcement on Twitter Tuesday afternoon.
“Grisham will be assuming the roles formerly held by Bill Shine, who departed as White House communications director in March, and Sanders, who has said her last day will be this Friday,” CNN reported. “Additionally, Grisham will remain in charge of communications for the East Wing in addition to her new West Wing responsibilities, staying on as the spokeswoman for the first lady.”
The announcement Tuesday put Grisham back in national news, where she made a big splash back in October when she called for a boycott of rapper T.I. over the way the first lady was depicted in a video posted to social media.
The minute-long video imagined T.I. as the president, showing him wearing a suit in the Oval Office, where a Melania Trump look-alike enters wearing only a jacket. The would-be first lady then sheds the jacket stripper-style and jumps on the desk in the nude before proceeding to vandalize a portrait of Donald Trump. The video ends with a clip of the president, Make America Great Again hat planted firmly on top of his head, riding in a golf cart and flashing the thumbs up sign.
The jacket the fake Melania wore in the video was the same one the real Melania sported on her trip to the border last year, which was purportedly to visit migrant children who the government had caged. The words “I DON’T REALLY CARE, DO U?” were printed on the back of the jacket in a move that was ridiculed as being completely tone-deaf to the gravity of the situation where families were being separated by U.S. immigration agents.
Still, Grisham defended the first lady’s choice of wardrobe in a tweet that was accompanied by the hashtag, “ItsJustAJacket.”
The new press secretary also took some shots at Omarosa Manigault-Newman, whose less-than-glorious departure from the White House was under a ton of controversy. Omarosa’s resignation (firing?) prompted Grisham to tell Newsweek that Melania Trump “rarely, if ever, interacted with Omarosa” and that the first lady disagreed with how Omarosa was “lashing out and retaliating in such a self-serving way, especially after all the opportunities given to her by the president.”
That said, Grisham has issued several statements in the past that seemed to go against sentiment from the president, which could be an indication of a more transparent approach at press briefings than her predecessor.
After the president’s Twitter fingers took aim at LeBron James’ intelligence, Grisham issued a statement on behalf of the first lady supporting the basketball legend’s efforts in education.
“It looks like LeBron James is working to do good things on behalf of our next generation and just as she always has, the First Lady encourages everyone to have an open dialogue about issues facing children today,” Grisham told CNN last August.
Another statement released by Grisham seemed to undermine past comments the president made about African nations when he referred to them as “shithole countries” in January of 2018. As the first lady was about to embark on a solo trip to Africa in October, Grisham said Melania Trump would be traveling to “four beautiful and very different countries in Africa” for a “diplomatic and humanitarian visit” to benefit “children and their well-being” as part of the first lady’s controversial Be Best initiative.