(CNN)White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham is leaving the job without ever having briefed the press. CNN has learned she is returning to the East Wing as first lady Melania Trump’s chief of staff as President Donald Trump’s new chief of staff Mark Meadows shakes up the communications team in the West Wing.
Kayleigh McEnany, who served as Trump’s 2020 campaign spokeswoman, will replace Grisham as White House press secretary, according to two sources familiar with the situation.
Meadows is also tapping Alyssa Farah, the current spokeswoman for the Defense Department, to be the director of strategic communications, the two sources said. Ben Williamson, a Meadows staffer, will become the senior communications adviser.
Farah has held several roles in the Trump administration. After leaving her job as the spokeswoman for the House Freedom Caucus to become Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary, she moved to the Pentagon last August. This will be her first position in the West Wing. Farah has remained close with Meadows since her days at the Freedom Caucus.
Grisham, who still speaks with first lady Melania Trump on a daily basis, is returning to where she has spent the majority of her time in the administration, the East Wing. She is replacing Lindsay Reynolds, who resigned as the first lady’s chief of staff early this week to spend time with her family.
“I continue to be honored to serve both the President and first lady in the administration,” Grisham said in a statement. “My replacements will be announced in the coming days and I will stay in the West Wing to help with a smooth transition for as long as needed.”
Melania Trump also issued a statement announcing Grisham’s return and thanking Reynolds for her service.
“I am excited to welcome Stephanie back to the team in this new role,” she said. “She has been a mainstay and true leader in the administration from even before Day 1, and I know she will excel as chief of staff. I appreciate all that Lindsay Reynolds did over the past three years, and wish her well in her future endeavors.”
It became clear to aides that a shakeup in the communications team could be coming after the deputy communications director, Jessica Ditto, abruptly announced she was leaving her job last week. She had recently moved to a new desk, and the move surprised her colleagues.
In recent weeks, Grisham stopped regularly attending senior staff meetings and has not played a major role as the administration has dealt with the coronavirus outbreak. After Vice President Mike Pence was tasked to lead the task force, his communications team took over as well.
Though Grisham initially told people she planned to revive the daily press briefing that previous press secretary Sarah Sanders abandoned by the end of her tenure, she never did, which she often said was at the President’s direction. She rarely strayed from interviews with Fox News Channel, which she did from the channel’s Washington bureau, denying reporters the chance to question her during walk-and-talk gaggles on the White House driveway.
Once a campaign aide, Grisham wrangled media as Trump canvassed the country ahead of the 2016 election. After Trump took office, she became the deputy press secretary in the West Wing during Sean Spicer’s tenure as press secretary before becoming Melania Trump’s communications director. She quickly formed the first lady’s forward-facing presence, and made a name for herself as a dogged, if caustic, defender. Dubbed “the enforcer” in a 2018 Washington Post profile, Grisham’s job was to thwart as much as possible the criticism levied at the first lady on topics that ranged from picking cyberbullying as part of her platform to