Stephanie Grisham, spokeswoman for first lady Melania Trump, emerges as the top candidate to replace outgoing White House press secretary Sarah Sanders according to sources familiar with the selection process.
Grisham, a former Trump campaign served in the White House since Trump took office, is known as a clever tactician who is loyal to the first family. However, she essentially fulfills President Trump's best criteria: that Sander's replacement is a woman.
"When he says he wants a woman, he wants a woman," a source familiar with the selection process told Washington Examiner
Another source, a former Trump aide, said: "The president really wants a woman to fill that role." Trump has mentioned both Grisham and former prime minister Heather Nauert as possible successors to Sanders.
Grisham, 42, is a beloved East Wing figure and has many followers close to Trump. In November, she issued an unusual statement requiring Mira Ricardel, a national security council official with whom the first lady collided on a trip to Africa, was concerned. Ricardel quickly lost his job.
A lone mother of two sons, she followed Trump to Washington from Arizona, where she worked for state republicans, including then lawyer-general Tom Horne. In 201
While working as a travel press secretary on the 2016 Trump campaign, she was so dedicated that she did not see her son, Jake – who was then eight – for five and a half months. Her older son is now educated from high school.
A list of four participants following Sanders' surprising departure announcement on Thursday highlighted Grisham, Nauert, outgoing Treasury Department spokesman Tony Sayegh, and Deputy Vice President Hogan Gidley.
But Nauert was forced in February to withdraw from a US ambassador nomination for the United Nations, allegedly due to hiring a foreign nanny. One source said that the issue that blew up Nauert is serious enough to keep her out of business.
"The reasons why she should withdraw from the United Nations would be the same reasons she could not do so," a source close to senior officials said.
The first source said about Grisham: "She handles well on television, but the press secretary's job has turned more into a comms than a press role. And there are some people who are good at camera but not so good at communication strategy "She is a murderer on both fronts."
"[Grisham] would be fine in front of the podium and she would be good at strategic issues. I don't think Sarah was as sharp as her. Grisham won't hesitate to Slide the knife into the back of the other, which is what you need. This is the White House. "
Sanders said she plans to leave in late June and set up a short window to choose her replacement .
Grisham, the first source said, can take a sharper approach to "the journalists unfairly" and "people in the administration do things; they should not." They imagine Grisham "in principle is the president's press and political secret service – if you need to shiv someone, you do it. "
The other source said Sayegh "is great and would be the best choice", but it's not a woman and that "I can't hear Hogan being discussed as a real opportunity." They noted that although Trump probably chose a woman, it was possible that Trump could end up thinking "outside the box" and "redefining the role."
Sanders has gone almost 100 days without an official White House briefing and instead of informal run-in gaps. Trump tweeted this year he asked Sanders to quit briefings because "the press covers her so outrageously and inaccurately." In another break from tradition, Trump has not filled the vacant white house communications director role since the end of former Fox News executive Bill Shine in March.
A third source, a former White House official, said they heard Grisham have a "good shot" but that there is nothing final. A fourth source who worked on the Trump campaign said, "I've heard that Stephanie is open to the post." Several sources say they haven't heard Gidley mentioned as a serious contender.
Although Grisham is said to be the front runner, it is possible that Trump will be tempted to choose another woman, especially if the first lady resists losing her top aid. Morgan Ortagus, a spokeswoman at the State Department and several Fox News personalities have been floated as theoretical candidates.
Trump can also be tempted by the possibility of naming the first Latin American American for the job. But CNN commentator Steve Cortes, who is allegedly being considered, is widely used in backing and the preferred sex.
"When the president decides to have a woman in a role, it's hard to impossible to convince him other than a woman," a source said.