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White House Shakes Up Communications Team With New Meadows Aides

Stephanie Grisham played a more behind-the-scenes role for President Trump than his two previous press secretaries. She will move to work solely for first lady Melania Trump.
Chip Somodevilla
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Stephanie Grisham played a more behind-the-scenes role for President Trump than his two previous press secretaries. She will move to work solely for first lady Melania Trump.

Updated at 2 p.m. ET

The White House is shaking up its communications team, a source familiar with the planning told NPR on Tuesday.

New White House chief of staff Mark Meadows will name Ben Williamson, a close adviser, as the senior communications adviser, the source said. Williamson worked with Meadows on Capitol Hill, where he helped drive messaging around President Trump's defense during impeachment.

Alyssa Farah will become director of strategic communications. Farah is the top Pentagon spokeswoman and previously worked as Vice President Pence's press secretary. Before that, she worked with the House Freedom Caucus, where she was a longtime ally of Meadows.

Kayleigh McEnany will move from the Trump reelection campaign to the White House to become the new press secretary, replacing Stephanie Grisham, whose departure to the East Wing was announced earlier on Tuesday. McEnany is known for her frequent television appearances defending Trump.

Earlier on Tuesday, Melania Trump said Grisham — who had been press secretary and communications director — would step back from those roles and become her chief of staff and spokesperson.

Grisham, who is close to the first lady, was the third press secretary. Unlike her predecessors Sarah Sanders and Sean Spicer, Grisham did not do briefings and played a more behind-the scenes role. She is one of the last remaining original Trump campaign staffers to still be working in the White House.

Melania Trump's former chief of staff Lindsay Reynolds resigned, the first lady said.

In a statement to Axios reported last week, Grisham seemed unaware that she was on the verge of being replaced.

"Sounds like more palace intrigue to me, but I've also been in quarantine. If true, how ironic that the press secretary would hear about being replaced in the press," Grisham said in a statement to the publication.

Grisham had been in self-quarantine after a potential exposure to the coronavirus at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

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Alana Wise joined WAMU in September 2018 as the 2018-2020 Audion Reporting Fellow for . Selected as one of 10 recipients nationwide of the Audion Reporting Fellowship, Alana works in the WAMU newsroom as part of a national reporting project and is spending two years focusing on the impact of guns in the Washington region.
Tamara Keith has been a White House correspondent for NPR since 2014 and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast, the top political news podcast in America. Keith has chronicled the Trump administration from day one, putting this unorthodox presidency in context for NPR listeners, from early morning tweets to executive orders and investigations. She covered the final two years of the Obama presidency, and during the 2016 presidential campaign she was assigned to cover Hillary Clinton. In 2018, Keith was elected to serve on the board of the White House Correspondents' Association.
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