WASHINGTON – Trump campaign press secretary Kayleigh McEnany is set to replace White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham, who announced Tuesday she will step down to return to the East Wing as chief of staff to the first lady, according to a senior administration official.
Alyssa Farah, a Pentagon spokeswoman and former press secretary for Vice President Mike Pence, will also join the White House communications team, the official said, as part a wider shake-up in the West Wing under President Donald Trump's new chief of staff Mark Meadows.
Grisham, who previously served as Melania Trump's communications director and later her deputy chief of staff, announced her departure to rejoin the first lady's staff in a White House statement Tuesday.
McEnany, a 31-year-old Fox News fixture and former CNN contributor, served as the Republican National Committee spokeswoman before she was named as the Trump campaign's national press secretary in 2019.
As Trump's third press secretary, Grisham spent less than a year in the post without ever holding a news briefing. Her predecessor, Sarah Sanders, scrapped the regular briefings that had been customary to the job throughout Republican and Democratic presidential administrations dating back to Herbert Hoover's, according to historian Martha Kumar. The first televised news briefings took place under Bill Clinton's administration.
Meadows, a former North Carolina Republican congressman, assumed his new post last week and was expected to bring some of his allies to the West Wing. Farah served as the communications director for the conservative House Freedom Caucus when Meadows served as chairman.
Grisham is expected to begin her role with the first lady immediately, according to a statement from Melania Trump. She added she would remain in the West Wing "to help with a smooth transition for as long as needed."
The East Wing statement said the first lady's previous chief of staff, Lindsay Reynolds, resigned this week to spend time with her family.
Grisham has been absent from the administration's response to the coronavirus outbreak, self-quarantining after coming into contact with members of a Brazilian delegation who tested positive for COVID-19 at the president's Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida. The president has instead functionally served as his own press secretary as the administration confronts the ongoing coronavirus crisis, appearing at daily briefings that sometimes last two hours
Grisham dismissed media reports last week that Meadows considered replacing her with McEnany or Farah.The reports came as White House deputy communications director Jessica Ditto announced her departure from the West Wing to join the private sector.
"Sounds like more palace intrigue to me, but I’ve also been in quarantine," she told Axios. "If true, how ironic that the press secretary would hear about being replaced in the press.”
Trump named Grisham as his third press secretary last June, replacing Sanders, who returned to her home state of Arkansas.
Sanders weighed in on Twitter later on Tuesday, calling McEnany and Farah "smart and capable women who have been loyal fighters" for the president.
.@kayleighmcenany and @Alyssafarah are smart and capable women who have been loyal fighters for @realDonaldTrump. Both are great additions to the WH press & comms team and their promotions are another example of the President empowering strong women to senior roles in his admin.
— Sarah Huckabee Sanders (@SarahHuckabee) April 7, 2020
Grisham, an Arizona native, has a long history with the Trump family and is known for her loyalty to them, particularly the first lady. She’s one of the few remaining White House staffers who worked on Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016.
After Trump was elected, she went to the White House to work as a deputy to Trump’s first press secretary, Sean Spicer.
On the campaign trail, Grisham helped arrange political stops for Trump around Arizona and the Southwest, a role that expanded to include Trump rallies around the country. Grisham worked on Mitt Romney’s campaign for president in 2012.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Kayleigh McEnany to replace Stephanie Grisham as White House press secretary