Mercedes Schlapp, the White House director of strategic communications, announced on Monday that she would leave her West Wing post to join President Trump’s re-election campaign, the latest move in a shuffle of the White House press shop.
Ms. Schlapp said in an interview that she had discussed her departure with Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, for weeks. It had been widely expected since Stephanie Grisham was appointed the new press secretary and communications director last week, according to multiple people familiar with the discussions. After some discussion of keeping Ms. Schlapp in the administration but moving her out of the White House and to an agency, those talks fell apart.
“I am excited to announce that @MercedesSchlapp will soon be joining our Campaign,” the president wrote on Twitter. “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!”
Ms. Schlapp’s departure comes as Ms. Grisham is likely to make a number of changes in a press operation that has consistently stymied Mr. Trump. The president has often complained to people that despite the large number of employees in his press and communications office, he continues to generate what he views as terrible coverage.
Mr. Trump’s campaign manager, Brad Parscale, wrote on Twitter that Ms. Schlapp would help the campaign with “strategy as well as Latino outreach with her bilingual capabilities.” Her husband, Matt Schlapp, the chairman of the American Conservative Union, wrote on Twitter, “Like her Cuban Dad’s response to Castro, she will keep helping @realDonaldTrump to fight socialism here.”
Ms. Schlapp said she and Mr. Parscale were still determining whether she would be a consultant, which the campaign has many of, or a full-time campaign staff member. She has told Ms. Grisham that she will stay on as long as needed for a transition.
The move makes Ms. Schlapp, a frequent Fox News surrogate for the administration during her nearly two years in her role, the latest departing White House official to find a soft landing at the campaign or an outside group supporting Mr. Trump’s re-election. Both the campaign and America First, the “super PAC” supporting it, have become receptacles for people whom the president and his top advisers want to keep within his orbit, even if they leave the White House.
In some cases, those leaving the White House have taken on specific roles in the campaign. In others, they appear to be generalists advising Mr. Trump’s operation.
Bill Shine, the former communications director, left his job in March. At the time, the White House indicated he was joining the campaign, but he has only rarely been consulted by the full-time campaign operation.
Kelly Sadler, a White House staff member who was let go after she mocked Senator John McCain shortly before his death, was hired as a communications aide by America First.
Some White House officials who exited their posts to staff the campaign were always likely to become part of Mr. Trump’s political apparatus. Among them are two former high-ranking White House aides, Bill Stepien, who served as political director, and Justin Clark, who ran the Office of Public Liaison.
Linda McMahon, the former administrator of the Small Business Administration, moved to become the chairwoman of America First. Ms. McMahon is a favorite of Mr. Trump’s, with ties to megadonors the president hopes will support him.
But others appeared to have no clear area of responsibility in the White House, an arrangement all parties found frustrating.
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