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Oddly, at a time when daily press briefings need to be given with the latest news on the coronavirus pandemic, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham has been demoted, having never held a press briefing and with Donald Trump now fronting all of them dealing with the response to the virus.
Grisham started working in 2015 as a press aide for Trump's 2016 campaign and later transitioned to be a special adviser for operations on his transition team after his win.
She was initially named deputy press secretary under Sean Spicer with the new administration, then moved over to being First Lady Melania Trump's spokeswoman. Last July she replaced Sarah Sanders as press secretary and White House communications director.
A senior official said Grisham will be replaced as press secretary by Kayleigh McEnany, and Pentagon spokeswoman Alyssa Farah will replace her as director of strategic communications. Additionally, Ben Williams, a senior aide to new White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, will become senior adviser for communications. Deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley will remain in that role.
Melania Trump announced on Tuesday that Grisham would join her once again as a full-time chief of staff and spokesperson, referring to her as "a mainstay and true leader in the administration."
While White House officials have praised Grisham's loyalty, she was never a part of the inner circle of Donald Trump's advisers. The senior official said the staffing moves are an attempt to expand the press office so that it can better handle communications regarding the pandemic and economic troubles. The official noted, "There has to be a strategy going forward."
Trump has also rehired Hope Hicks who served his administration as director of communications and then communications director until her resignation in 2019 after admitting in a congressional hearing that she had told "white lies" for Trump.
Grisham said in a statement that her replacements would be announced "in the coming days" and that she'd remain in the West Wing "to help with a smooth transition for as long as needed."
In a February 25 interview on Fox News, McEnany stated Trump would prevent the coronavirus from hitting American shores. "We will not see diseases like the coronavirus come here. We will not see terrorism come here," she said. "And isn't it refreshing when contrasting it with the awful presidency of President Obama?"
McEnany has also stated that Democrats were "actively rooting against what's in the best interest of America," including wanting the coronavirus to take control of the U.S. She said just like the Russia and Ukraine scandals, the coronavirus was being used to take down Trump.
While she was allowed to make appearances like that, Grisham has not been visible at Trump's daily press briefings about the pandemic that are held in the same room former press secretaries held their daily briefings.
Through some of that time, however, she was self-quarantining after learning she'd been exposed while at a Mar-a-Lago dinner on March 7 to a few people who had tested later for COVID-19. On March 24 the White House announced she had tested negatively.
It was reported last week that Meadows was considering replacing Grisham, possibly with Farah, who haad previously been spokeswoman for Vice President Mike Pence and who had worked for Congress. Meadows is reportedly looking into holding regular briefings once again.
"Sounds like more palace intrigue to me, but I've also been in quarantine," said Grisham at the time. "If true, how ironic that the press secretary would hear about being replaced in the press."
She was described recently as being exhausted and resigned to an inevitable move. With a diminishing number of allies, insiders said it was an expected change.
One source familiar with the move said Melania Trump was not going to allow Grisham to be humiliated by what is, in essence, a demotion. The source said it had been up to Grisham whether to give up the press secretary role and return to the first lady's office or leave the administration altogether.
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