White House press secretary Sarah Sanders speaks to reporters outside the White House in Washington, U.S., January 23, 2019. REUTERS/Jim Young – RC173D9B67F0

Sarah Sanders is leaving the White House Friday, passing off the role of press secretary after more than two years to Stephanie Grisham. 

Sanders tweeted Friday morning that she walks out the White House gates with her head “held high.” President Trump announced her departure earlier this month on Twitter, and earlier this week the first lady announced Grisham, her spokeswoman, would replace Sanders

Sanders is returning with her family to Arkansas, and she’s not ruling out the possibility of a run for governor in three years, which would be the same position her father held from 1996-2007. The White House press secretary role boosted her profile nationally, making such a bid more feasible. 

Sanders’ tenure was marked often by her adversarial relationship with the press, a relationship that reflected the views of her boss, by controversial and at times misleading claims, and by fewer and fewer briefings. The last time Sanders briefed the press from the podium was March 11, more than 100 days ago. (Overall, the press has enjoyed greater access to President Trump than to prior presidents and has the opportunity to ask him questions in person on a fairly regular basis.)

She reliably delivered a vigorous defense of the president, winning loyalty and support from the president’s supporters.

It remains to be seen how Grisham — regarded as a tough, smart staffer loyal to the Trumps — will handle the new role. Grisham’s role with First Lady Melania Trump has not been a public-facing one. She’s not one for interviews, and the East Wing is noticeably light on leaks — vastly different from the leaky West Wing. 

Grisham is currently on Mr. Trump’s trip to Japan and South Korea, her first trip as the new press secretary. She officially takes the title when Sanders leaves Friday, Sanders confirmed to reporters earlier this week. 

Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Grisham told CBS Grisham has not only the trust of the president and first lady, but has a particular ability to understand the needs of the press. 

“I think Stephanie obviously has the trust and the respect of the president and first lady and that’s critical in this position,” Spicer said, adding that’s important in any White House, but “I think in this particular White House it’s even more so.”

It’s unclear if Grisham’s entrance will mean any change in the frequency of press briefings or press access. 


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