Stephanie Grisham, former White House press secretary under Donald Trump and chief of staff to then First Lady Melania Trump, began her book tour on Monday with an appearance on Good Morning America, and host George Stephanopoulos started off with the “inevitable first question, what took you so long?”
Grisham resigned on January 6, the day of the Capitol siege, but her new book, I’ll Take Your Questions Now, to be published on Tuesday, is a scathing portrait of the Trump White House. While the pre-publication publicity has included all sorts of bombshell revelations through the years that Grisham was a loyal aide to the Trumps, she stayed.
“That’s a fair question, and that’s a complicated question,” Grisham said. “I went into the Trump campaign a true believe and a true loyalist.” She added that she didn’t see the full measure of the chaos of Trump White House when, in June, 2019, she shifted from the East Wing, where she was the first lady’s communications director, to the West Wing, where she became press secretary.
“When I went to the West Wing I started to see what it was really like, and I regretted that decision,” Grisham said.
Grisham’s book already has been met with attacks from her former boss, Melanie Trump, along with the former president’s allies, but it’s also a source of skepticism from Trump’s detractors, wary of efforts by former White House staffers to rehabilitate their image.
Stephanopoulos asked her if, by staying, she was enabling a “culture of casual dishonesty” in the White House.
“Yes, I was, and I have reflected on that and I regret that, and especially now watching him and so many people push the false election narrative, I now want to, in whatever way I can, educate the public about the behaviors within the White House, because it does look like he is going to try to run in 2024,” she said.
Stephanopoulos himself is no stranger to the post-White House memoir, having written his own, All Too Human, after departing the Clinton administration in 1996. It, too, created a bit of a stir, albeit it’s hardly an apples to apples comparison. Grisham’s book is a gallery of unflattering details about the First Family, with claims that Trump used lewd and sexist language and that the first lady was nicknamed “Rapunzel” by the Secret Service because she confined herself to the residence. The former president has characterized the book as “lies,” but the book also details the president’s tendency to “just deny it,” as she writes he ones told her. Some tidbits were long suspected, like the former president’s love of the song “Memory” from Cats, but Grisham adds the detail that it was used to calm him down “sort of like soothing the savage beast.”
In the interview, Grisham addressed one aspect of her legacy: She never held an official press briefing, hence the title of her book. She said that it was Trump who ordered her not to hold one.
“When we discussed me taking the job, he had already suspended the briefings for about six months under Sarah [Sanders, her predecessor],” Grisham said. “He said he didn’t think we needed any more briefings. He spoke to the press two or three times a day directly, so then my job was going to be to work more behind the scenes, with print, with regional and local.”
When Mark Meadows became chief of staff, Grisham was out as press secretary and returned to the first lady’s office in April, 2020.
Melania Trump issued a recent statement in advance of the book’s publication, saying that Grisham “is desperately trying to rehabilitate her tarnished reputation by manipulating and distorting the truth about Mrs.Trump. Ms. Grisham is a deceitful and troubled individual who doesn’t deserve anyone’s trust.”
“I expected that. I expect more. This is right out of their playbook. When they don’t like the message, they are going to destroy the message. I know. I was part of doing that sometimes. I notice she is not denying anything in the book just yet. I think she knows that I have a lot of receipts to show that I am fully honest. I expected that, and I am sure that there will be a lawsuit to come, maybe two or three or four.”
Later on Monday, Alyssa Farah, who joined the White House as communications director after Grisham’s exit, subbed on ABC’s The View. She called Grisham’s book “a little disingenuous.” “She wasn’t just a Trump staffer for all four years. She was an originalist. She campaigned for him. I didn’t even vote for him in 2016.” She also said that Grisham was a bit “MIA” in the job, and could have engaged the press more during her tenure short of holding an actual briefing.
But she did give some corroboration to Grisham’s claim that Trump took to a young female press aide, to the point where it raised her concerns over having the staffer left alone with the president.
“It concerned me. I was older than her. She was under my purview. So I raised it to the chief of staff, my concerns, and he said that he would look into it,” Farah said. “I don’t know what came of that, but it was important to me to report it. That was the job.”
EXCLUSIVE: Stephanie Grisham breaks her silence about what she saw inside the Trump White House.
— Good Morning America (@GMA) October 4, 2021
STEPHANIE GRISHAM SAYS WORKING FOR TRUMP WAS “A MISTAKE”: The co-hosts and guest co-host @Alyssafarah react to former Pres. Trump’s former press secretary’s interview with @GMA’s @GStephanopoulos and question the reason behind her tell-all book now. https://t.co/O5FjMvOavd pic.twitter.com/TOo5gcWf9N
— The View (@TheView) October 4, 2021
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