As the Trump White House got back down to regular business on Monday following a trip to Japan for the G-20 economic summit and an historic visit to the Korean DMZ, there was a sudden and unexpected resignation of a top member of the president’s communications team.
White House Director of Strategic Communications Mercedes Schlapp revealed on Monday — the first full day of work for new Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham — that she was stepping down from her administration position and assuming a role within the Trump re-election campaign team.
Talk of tension
The Washington Examiner reported that the abrupt resignation of Schlapp on Grisham’s first day seemed to align with earlier insinuations that there was a level of tension between the two women and a rumor that Grisham would fire Schlapp if given the chance.
Schlapp, who is married to Matt Schlapp of the American Conservative Union and is a veteran of the George W. Bush administration, was reportedly viewed as a “Bushie” and not fully trusted as loyal to the president by some in the White House.
In fact, anonymous sources told the Examiner previously that Grisham — who has been with Trump since the beginning of the 2016 campaign — believed Schlapp was responsible for certain leaks out of the White House.
However, almost a dozen others in the White House who know both Grisham and Schlapp denied that there was any conflict or that anyone was going to be fired and suggested the rumors had no real basis.
Smoothing it over
One former White House official said, “Stephanie is not the type who would go in and start firing people. That’s not how she’s wired. I think it’s dramatically overblown.”
For her part, Schlapp said to the Examiner, “Before the announcement, Jared [Kushner] and I had been discussing different roles outside of the White House, and we both agreed that I could help the campaign early on. The logical transition is now after serving close to two years.”
As for Grisham, she told the Examiner of Schlapp, “I am sad to see her go, but she will be helping me transition into my new role, and I look forward to working with her in the future.”
Looking ahead to 2020
Schlapp tweeted about her future plans on Monday.
Thrilled to be joining the President’s re-election campaign! @realDonaldTrump is the best fighter for the American people we have ever had and he will be re-elected! #MAGA #FourMoreYears https://t.co/bmWepsggPo
— Mercedes Schlapp (@mercedesschlapp) July 1, 2019
President Trump followed up with a tweet of his own on the topic shortly thereafter.
I am excited to announce that @MercedesSchlapp will soon be joining our Campaign. She feels so strongly about our Country & its future. We are setting records in so many ways, & we will keep it going. Mercedes has done a fantastic job within the Administration & I am so thankful!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 1, 2019
It is unclear at this point when exactly Schlapp’s transition from the White House to the 2020 campaign will be complete, and based on the statements of both Schlapp and Grisham — as well as President Trump — it would seem there isn’t quite as much conflict or distrust between them as previously implied.