Anonymous tales of sex, vengeance, laziness, and criminal behavior are swirling in Washington as President Trump considers who to name his next White House press secretary.
The spread of negative stories about contenders, many provably false, others unprovable, demonstrates the risk of Trump taking his time to make a selection, leaving his candidates exposed to attacks from rivals. A fear of some is that Trump himself could hear a rumor and believe it without checking whether it was true.
One experienced government spokesperson was said to exhibit a poor work ethic and incompetence, except when news cameras appeared. Another was said to have committed misconduct potentially amounting to a crime. One, who the Washington Examiner will not identify, was said to have slept with Secret Service agents.
Among the people believed to have been considered are deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley, former State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, and recently departed Treasury Department spokesman Tony Sayegh. Former Fox New host Eric Bolling, CNN contributor and potential first Hispanic press secretary Steve Cortes, State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus, and White House director of strategic communications Mercedes Schlapp have also been mentioned.
Stephanie Grisham, 42, the spokeswoman for first lady Melania Trump and the heavy favorite, has found herself a piñata after Sarah Sanders said last Thursday she’s leaving this month.
Stories mounted as Grisham’s selection began to look likely this week, though it’s unclear if they are part of an organized campaign to derail her.
In one account, Grisham was said to strongly dislike a prominent West Wing communications aide. Grisham, a trusted Trump campaign veteran, was said to have plans to fire the other Trump surrogate, whom she allegedly suspected of self-serving leaks.
One source stood by their story about a looming clash, but amid broad pushback from nearly a dozen people who know both White House officials, a second source familiar with internal West Wing politics recanted their account of longstanding enmity.
The source who recanted said they actually support Grisham, who they view as tough and loyal to Trump, and learned they unwittingly repeated rumors from a Grisham foe who sought to make her candidacy appear controversial.