In the wake of yet another dismissal of a senior staff member in the Trump White House, it seems that there’s more attention than ever on those who have remained a part of the administration since President Trump‘s 2016 election, and even before that; namely, Melania Trump’s deputy chief of staff for communications, Stephanie Grisham.
In a Washington Post report published Monday, Grisham’s path through the White House is traced back to the summer of 2015, when she joined Trump’s campaign as a “press wrangler.” Now, more than three years later, the single mother of two is reported to have become “one of the more powerful figures in the ever-evolving Trump White House” as an agent uniquely trusted by both the president and the first lady, as well as a staunch defender of the latter.
According to unnamed East Wing staffers who spoke to the Washington Post, Grisham’s response to the scrutiny surrounding Melania’s “I really don’t care, do u?” jacket during her June visit to the Texas border with Mexico proves just how dedicated Grisham is to protecting and serving the first lady. Daniel Fisher, director of the White House Visitors Office, told the publication, “Stephanie more than most is on the front lines of pretty much everything that goes on that is visible.”
Melania made headlines when she visited a Texas housing facility for immigrant children who were separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border and wore the statement-making jacket on her way to and from the plane at Andrews Air Force in Maryland. While in Texas, however, she took the jacket off. Still, Grisham didn’t let reporters sit on the photos for long before responding on behalf of the first lady and bringing attention back to the work that she was doing rather than what she was wearing.
Grisham posted to Twitter with the hashtags #SheCares and #ItsJustAJacket after telling reporters, “It’s a jacket. There was no hidden meaning.”
Today’s visit w the children in Texas impacted @flotus greatly. If media would spend their time & energy on her actions & efforts to help kids – rather than speculate & focus on her wardrobe – we could get so much accomplished on behalf of children. #SheCares #ItsJustAJacket
— Stephanie Grisham (@StephGrisham45) June 21, 2018
The president later responded to the controversy with his own tweet contradicting what Grisham had said. Trump wrote that Melania’s jacket “refers to the Fake News Media. Melania has learned how dishonest they are, and she truly no longer cares!” Melania wouldn’t respond herself until an exclusive interview with ABC News that aired in October, saying “it was kind of a message.” Still, fellow staffers told the Post that Grisham did what she was supposed to do by responding as quickly as she could.
“There’s something every day that we could be affected by that the media deems disgraceful or impeachable, so you go and you do your job and you serve the president and the first lady you see in front of you,” an East Wing staffer told the outlet, “not the people the media portrays.”
In the case of the first lady, that media portrayal often includes a meek former model standing in the shadow of her outspoken husband. What Grisham has worked to make clear, per the Post, is that Melania is more involved than she seems. She just has a strong advocate to communicate her message.
“The resistance wants the first lady to be a victim, and she hates being seen that way,” one of her aides said. If anything, “Grisham makes clear that she is not.”
Grisham declined to comment to the Washington Post story, saying “I feel strongly that I should never be the story.” She added that serving the first lady and the president has been the greatest honor” of her career.
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