Stephanie Ann Grisham (née Allen; born July 23, 1976) is an American White House official who serves as the 30th White House press secretary and as the current White House communications director. She was a press aide to Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, and member of his presidential transition team.
Stephanie Ann Allen was born in Colorado to Dave and Elizabeth Ann Allen, the middle child of three. Her family are farmers.
She moved with her mother to East Wenatchee, Washington, where she graduated from Eastmont High School in 1994. Her studies focused on "character education". Her mother has since moved to Nebraska, where she is known as Ann Schroder.
Grisham began voting in Arizona as a registered Democrat in 1997.
As Stephanie Ann Sommerville, she married Danny Don Marries in Nevada on April 7, 1997. They met at Mesa State College in Grand Junction, Colorado. He joined KOLD in Tucson, Arizona, on the day after their son Kurtis's first birthday in June 1999. They divorced in 2004.
Later in 2004, she subsequently married Todd Grisham, a KOLD sportscaster. They divorced in 2006.
Following her divorce(s), Grisham was the spokeswoman for AAA Arizona in 2007, but was fired within a year after being accused of cheating on expense reports. Grisham was fired from a subsequent job at ad agency Mindspace over plagiarism charges, copying AAA material verbatim into her client's web page.
From 2008 to 2010, Grisham worked as a spokeswoman for the Arizona Charter Schools Association. There she met Tom Horne, Arizona's superintendent of public schools.
Circa 2011 to 2014, Grisham served as spokeswoman for Tom Horne after he was elected Arizona attorney general. She witnessed the execution of Joseph Wood and controversially claimed that the two hour ordeal had been "quite peaceful" despite contrary observations.
In 2012, Grisham also worked for Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign.
After Republican Mark Brnovich defeated Horne in the 2014 GOP primary, Grisham worked as a spokesperson for the Arizona House of Representatives Republican caucus. She revoked the Arizona Capitol Times's press credentials hours after their reporting that the House speaker, David Gowan, had traveled at state taxpayers' expense during his campaign for Congress. Reporters refused to comply, and Gowan rescinded the order.
In September 2015, Grisham worked as a press coordinator for Pope Francis's visit to Philadelphia as an independent contractor.
Trump campaign and transition
Circa August 2015, Grisham started working as a press aide to Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign. She helped arrange his campaign stops in Phoenix and around the state and region throughout the primary, a role that quickly expanded to include his rallies around the U.S. Grisham was on state payroll until May 2016, when she took an unpaid leave from the Arizona House of Representatives to work on Trump's campaign.
After his victory, Grisham was named a special adviser for operations and served on Trump's transition team. Arizona House speaker David Gowan paid her $19,000 in state salary over an 8-week period while she was serving as a member of the Trump transition team.
After Trump's January 2017 inauguration, Grisham was named deputy press secretary for Sean Spicer in the West Wing of the White House.
In March 2017, First Lady Melania Trump moved her over to the East Wing. A former White House colleague said that the president regretted losing Grisham to the first lady's office because of Grisham's loyalty and skill at handling the press while acting as his traveling press secretary. During that time, she built relationships with many reporters at events. Despite losing Grisham as part of his own staff, President Trump said he was satisfied that the first lady would "be in good hands". Grisham was described by several sources who had worked with her previously as being "highly competent" and "self-aware"; some suggested that she enjoyed "trolling the press."
The United States Office of Special Counsel stated that Grisham violated the Hatch Act of 1939 following a complaint by Senator Tom Carper. Grisham was accused of using her official Twitter account on July 11, 2018, to tweet out Trump's campaign slogan. Violation of the act is not a crime, but a workplace guideline, and the agency responded by sending Grisham a warning letter.
In July 2019, Grisham replaced Sarah Sanders as White House press secretary and White House communications director Grisham's appointment was announced by Melania Trump via Twitter on June 25, 2019. The June 28, 2019 Annual Report to Congress on White House Office Personnel listed Grisham as "Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications for the First Lady", with an annual salary of $183,000.00.
On September 5, 2019, the Washington Examiner published an opinion piece written by Grisham and her deputy Hogan Gidley entitled, "The Washington Post's lost summer." The authors asserted the Post had not reported on several Trump accomplishments that the paper actually did report. In one instance, the piece linked to a Post story entitled "Trump becomes first sitting president to set foot into North Korea" as the authors asserted the paper had not reported the event.
On September 23, 2019, when asked by the hosts of Fox & Friends if the White House planned to resume its daily press briefing Grisham said "not right now... I mean, ultimately, if the president decides that it's something we should do, we can do that, but right now he's doing just fine. And to be honest, the briefings have become a lot of theater. And I think that a lot of reporters were doing it to get famous. I mean, yeah, they're writing books now. I mean, they're all getting famous off of this presidency. And so, I think it's great what we're doing now."
On October 24, 2019, appearing on Fox & Friends, Grisham defended Trump's description of "Never Trump Republicans" as "Human scum". When asked if Trump should apologize, Grisham said "No, no, he shouldn't. The people who are against him and who have been against him and working against his [agenda] since the day they took office are just that. It is horrible that people are working against a president who is delivering results for this country and has been since day one. And, the fact that people continue to try to negate anything he's been trying to do and take away from the good work he's doing on behalf of the American people, they deserve strong language like that."
On October 26, 2019, in response to criticism of President Trump by his former chief of staff Gen. John F. Kelly (Ret.) Grisham stated: "I worked with John Kelly, and he was totally unequipped to handle the genius of our great President."
On November 13, 2019, during the testimony of William B. Taylor Jr., Grisham commented that the impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump was a "sham hearing" that is "not only boring, it is a colossal waste of taxpayer time & money."
That same month, Grisham claimed that Obama administration officials had left "you will fail" notes for the incoming Trump administration officials. Numerous Obama administration officials rejected the claim. Grisham ultimately retracted her assertion.
In December 2019, Grisham defended President Trump's implication that former congressman John Dingell was in hell. She described Trump as a "counter-puncher" who was "under attack."
As of March 11, 2020, Grisham had not conducted a formal press briefing in 365 days. However, she appeared on Fox News, Fox Business Network, One America News Network, and the Sinclair Broadcast Group many times during the same period. Anderson Cooper 360° devoted two prime-time segments in one week to question whether taxpayers should pay her $183,000 salary, and her hypocrisy. "Miss Grisham has gone from 'we are human beings' to 'they are human scum.' ... It's actually really kind of sad...." Her "unintentionally ironic and deeply hypocritical" social media statements and infrequent televised interviews "appear meant to defend the president but actually point out the president's own failings." Margaret Sullivan has commented in the Washington Post that Grisham "may hold the title but she's not doing the job".
Authors Don Winslow and Stephen King pledged to donate $100,000 each to charity after Grisham holds a 60-minute briefing answering questions from the White House press corps. Also, 13 former White House and military press secretaries from three administrations before Trump published a letter calling for the restoration of press briefings.
On January 9, 2013, Grisham was pulled over for speeding in Gilbert, Maricopa County, Arizona. The officer observed Grisham's signs of intoxication and she failed a field sobriety test. Grisham denied consuming any alcohol, but said she had taken a Xanax 90 minutes earlier and a Zoloft the prior night. A blood test revealed Grisham's blood alcohol content to be .105 percent, well above .08 legal limit in Arizona. She also was found to be driving on a suspended license since August 2012 for failure to answer a traffic citation. In August 2014, Grisham accepted a plea bargain agreement that reduced the charge to misdemeanor reckless driving, plus two years of probation. She returned to court twice for failure to pay the $779 in fines, and failure to complete a Mothers Against Drunk Driving program.
Shortly after midnight, December 5, 2015, Grisham was arrested again in Phoenix, Maricopa County, Arizona, for driving without her headlights and suspicion of driving under the influence; thus violating her probation. Grisham failed to appear at her court hearing on January 19, 2016, whereupon the judge issued a warrant for her arrest. Grisham pleaded guilty, and in July 2016 was ordered into a treatment program and to pay nearly $1,600 in court costs and fines.