By Jon Dougherty
NationalSentinel It didn’t take long for a name to bubble up to the top of the list of prospective replacements for the wonderful verbal pugilist Sarah Sanders, who announced Thursday she’ll be departing as White House press secretary in a few weeks after three-and-a-half years of jousting with the Democratic…er, Washington Press Corps.
That name, according toÂ The Daily Wire, is Stephanie Grisham, currently the White House Director of Communications for first lady Melania Trump.
She’s being described as “a loyal soldier fighting to advance Trump’s agenda dating all the way back to his first month on the campaign trail in 2015 when she was a low-level press staffer,” as well as a “stone-cold killer” that “no one else comes close” to being able to match in her ability to take control of problems that arise.
In December,Â The Washington PostÂ reported that Grisham has become “one of the more powerful figures in the ever-evolving Trump White House” while referring to her as “Melania Trump’s enforcer.”
A source toldÂ The Daily Wire naming Grisham was a “risk-free move for the administration in the run-up to perhaps the most important election in American history.”
“Grisham is pure Trump,” the source said. “She holds down the East Wing with ease and has no loyalties to any faction within the Republican Party. Members of the first family love her and know that she is fiercely dedicated and loyal.”
A second source told the news site: “Stephanie Grisham is a favorite of Trump loyalists, many in the national press corps, and most important, the Trump family. The First Lady loves Stephanieâ€™s tenacity and loyalty, and President Trump has remarked that he respects Stephanieâ€™s ability to stay cool under pressure and manage the toughest of news cycles. Stephanie might not be the first name that comes to mind for this role, but sheâ€™s the one person inside or outside the building who everyone nods their head and says, ‘Sheâ€™d be great.'”
A third said: “Stephanie is one of the last remaining Trump ‘originals’ in the White House. Sheâ€™s been with him since the beginning, is unquestionably loyal and has the respect of the press corps. Sheâ€™d be a total home run as press secretary â€” both for the President and his supporters.”
This all sounds pretty definite. Certainly, the president will need a fierce loyalist at the helm to deal with what will become an increasingly hostile press corps, if you can imagine that — and one that will likely help Democrats craft whatever message they want if their nominee loses next year (such as, oh, say, a rehash of ‘Trump colluded with [insert country here] after his ‘accept foreign information’ comments Thursday).
Another plus: Sanders thinks very highly of Grisham.
“During the campaign, she developed a good relationship with the president, and thatâ€™s carried through. She has developed a great amount of trust from both the president and the first lady, which is a pretty high commodity here. There arenâ€™t a lot of people who have a lot of regular interaction with both of them,” Sanders told the Post.
The paper relayed the following story as an example of how Grisham takes command of a situation:
White House staffers are also learning that Grisham is not someone with whom to tangle. In preparation for Melania Trumpâ€™s first solo trip abroad, which she took to Africa this fall, deputy national security adviser Mira Ricardel clashed with members of the first ladyâ€™s staff. Upon their return, Grisham and the first ladyâ€™s chief of staff, Lindsay Reynolds, approached White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly about the issue.
When he took no apparent action, Grisham spoke directly to Melania Trump, who in turn spoke to her husband privately. Then, when still nothing happened, Grisham suggested to the first lady a different strategy: Without giving the West Wing warning, Grisham put out a statement: â€œIt is the position of the Office of the First Lady that she no longer deserves the honor of serving in this White House.â€
Within days, Ricardel was out of the White House.
…never before has the East Wing issued a statement that resulted in the dismissal of a member of the West Wing, notes Myra Gutin, a professor of communications who studies the history of first ladies at Rider University in New Jersey.
- Follow Jon Dougherty on Twitter at @JonDougherty10