Melania Trump's spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham remains top contender for White House press secretary

By Fin Gomez

/ CBS News

Sarah Sanders on her time as press secretary

First lady Melania Trump's communications director remains the top contender to be the next White House press secretary, according to multiple administration sources. If selected, Stephanie Grisham, who has been a close and trusted adviser to the first lady and the first family, has the blessing and approval of Melania Trump to take over the White House podium, which is being vacated by Sarah Sanders, a top White House official tells CBS News.

"The first lady would not stand in her way," the official said on background. The first lady and the Trump family appreciate her loyalty and discretion, according to the official. Grisham has also impressed the president and first lady with the way she runs the first lady's communications operation — it's viewed as a tight ship with few leaks. Grisham is also one of the few remaining holdovers among the top White House officials from the 2016 campaign, and she has the approval of other members of the Trump family, as well.

A former senior White House official called Grisham "the ultimate Trump loyalist."

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"She's been with him from the very beginning. She's proven her chops with the First Lady's Office, which has avoided the missteps that often plagued the West Wing press staff. She's tough as nails. The press respects her. And most importantly, Trump trusts her," the official told CBS News.

Grisham has been reluctant to speak to press during the vetting process to replace Sanders, who announced last week that she was returning home to Arkansas to spend time with her kids after working for Mr. Trump during his 2016 campaign and at White House for over three years. Grisham has also repeatedly told White House officials that she is very happy in her current job.

Grisham attended a farewell reception held by Craft PR agency in Washington D.C. on Wednesday for outgoing top Treasury department spokesman Tony Sayegh, another candidate for White House press secretary. Also in attendance was White House principal deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley. He is also a top candidate for the position.

Both Gidley and Sayegh told CBS News that they're interested in the position. But another administration official said the president would likely prefer a woman to be press secretary.

Grisham is also well liked by the Trump loyalists who say she is very similar to Sanders in that she is respected by many of the different internal factions. She also has been complimented by White House officials for her calm management style.

"She never yells," a White House official said.

Multiple White House sources also confirmed that Grisham, Gidley and Sayegh are the likely the top contenders including possibly Heather Nauert, formerly of the State Department and Fox News. They are all being vetted and considered.

Also interviewed for the position this week was Steve Cortes, from the president's Hispanic Advisory Council, who has been considered for other White House press and communications positions.

First published on June 20, 2019 / 11:25 AM

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