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White House eyes candidates to replace Sarah Sanders

Sarah Sanders on her time as press secretary

The White House is lining up candidates to replace press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, CBS News has learned from two sources familiar with the process. The White House reached out to some of them Thursday, soon after the announcement that Sanders would be leaving and could begin interviews as soon as next week, the sources said.

Several sources put Melania Trump's deputy chief of staff and communications director high on the list of potential candidates, deeming her a strong contender. Stephanie Grisham is well-respected by the first couple and has impressed the president, according to the sources. Grisham was among the staff who worked on the president's 2016 campaign. 

U.S. President Trump attends "Be Best" anniversary event at the White House in Washington
Stephanie Grisham, communications director for first lady Melania Trump, works on her smartphone in the Rose Garden at the White House, May 7, 2019. Jonathan Ernst / REUTERS

"The president likes her," a former White House official told CBS News.

Grisham started as a press aide for the campaign and rose to White House deputy press secretary. She is a trusted adviser to the first lady. 

Another potential candidate is Tony Sayegh, the departing assistant secretary for public affairs at the Treasury Department who is leaving his post as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's chief spokesman. He is a former Fox News and Fox Business contributor and was credited with helping the administration's media rollout of the president's tax cut plan.

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Tony Sayegh Jr. (R), assistant secretary for public affairs at the Department of the Treasury, with former White House press secretary Sean Spicer outside the White House on July 25, 2017. AFP/Getty Images

Sayegh was feted at a farewell party Thursday night in Washington D.C. attended by White House and other administration officials including Sanders and her husband. He was seen by partygoers speaking with Sanders. 

Steve Cortes, who is on the president's Hispanic Advisory Council and is a CNN contributor, is also expected to be vetted -- again -- for press secretary. He has been considered for this job and other White House communications posts in the past.

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White House principal deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley speaks to members of the media outside the West Wing of the White House on April 8, 2019. Getty Images


While Sanders's principal deputy press secretary, Hogan Gidley, will also be considered, some White House officials tell CBS News they believe the next press secretary likely will not be a candidate from the president's immediate press office. Gidley may, however, be named interim press secretary.

Multiple sources say the process is fluid and several other names are also being considered. 

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