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White House Communications Director

since March 29, 2018
Executive Office of the President
White House Office of the Press Secretary
Reports to White House Chief of Staff
Appointer The President
Formation 1969 (White House Office)
1974 (White House Office of the Press Secretary)
First holder Herbert G. Klein

The White House Communications Director or White House Director of Communications, also known officially as Assistant to the President for Communications, is part of the senior staff of the President of the United States, and is responsible for developing and promoting the agenda of the President and leading its media campaign. The director, along with his or her staff, works on speeches such as the inaugural address and the State of the Union Address. The Communications Director, who is appointed by and serves at the pleasure of the President without the need for Senate confirmation, is usually given an office in the West Wing of the White House.


The White House Office of Communications was established by Herbert G. Klein in January 1969 during the Nixon administration.[1][2] It was separate from the Office of the Press Secretary from 1969 to 1974.[3]

Role and responsibilities[edit]

Historically, the position of White House Communications Director is given to a senior public relations staff member of the candidate's campaign staff. Often this is either the deputy campaign manager or the campaign communications director. The communications director works closely with the White House Press Secretary, who is typically a co-worker in the President's campaign.

As the President's voice and vision must be understood, the communications director ensures that all aspects of communications are covered to ensure that the administration's message has been delivered clearly and successfully. A communications strategy must be devised to promote the president's agenda throughout all media outlets. This can include, but certainly is not limited to, the State of the Union address, televised press conferences, statements to the press, and radio addresses. The communications office also works closely with cabinet-level departments and other executive agencies in order to create a coherent strategy, through which the president's message can be disseminated.

With the growing importance of the internet and new media in terms of presidential communication, the communications office has branched out to utilize the internet, and more specifically social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, in order to reach out and convey the President's vision to a larger percentage of the public.

Key staff[edit]

  • Assistant to the president/director of communications: vacant
  • Deputy assistant to the president/deputy director of communications: Jessica Ditto
  • Deputy assistant to the president/deputy director of communications/director of research: Raj Shah
  • White House Press Secretary: Sarah Huckabee Sanders
  • Assistant to the president/public liaison comms. director: vacant
  • Assistant to the president/director of social media: Dan Scavino

In March 2017, deputy press secretary Stephanie Grisham was named communications director in the Office of the First Lady.[4]


Officeholder Term start Term end Term duration President
Herb Klein[5] January 20, 1969 July 1, 1973 4 years, 162 days Richard Nixon
Ken Clawson January 30, 1974 November 4, 1974 278 days
Gerald Ford
Jerry Warren[6] November 4, 1974 August 15, 1975 284 days
Margita White[7] August 15, 1975 July 12, 1976 332 days
David Gergen[8] July 12, 1976 January 20, 1977 192 days
Gerald Rafshoon July 1, 1978 August 14, 1979 1 year, 44 days Jimmy Carter
Frank Ursomarso[9][10] February 23, 1981 June 17, 1981 114 days Ronald Reagan
David Gergen[11] June 17, 1981 January 15, 1984 2 years, 212 days
Michael A. McManus Jr.[6] January 15, 1984 February 6, 1985 1 year, 22 days
Pat Buchanan February 6, 1985 March 1, 1987 2 years, 23 days
Jack Koehler[12] March 1, 1987 March 13, 1987 11 days
Tom Griscom April 2, 1987 July 1, 1988 1 year, 90 days
Mari Maseng July 1, 1988 January 20, 1989 203 days
David Demarest January 20, 1989 August 23, 1992 3 years, 216 days George H. W. Bush
Margaret Tutwiler[13] August 23, 1992 January 20, 1993 150 days
George Stephanopoulos January 20, 1993 June 7, 1993 138 days Bill Clinton
Mark Gearan[14] June 7, 1993 August 14, 1995 2 years, 68 days
Don Baer August 14, 1995 July 31, 1997 1 year, 351 days
Ann Lewis July 31, 1997 March 10, 1999 1 year, 222 days
Loretta Ucelli March 10, 1999 January 20, 2001 1 year, 316 days
Karen Hughes January 20, 2001 October 2, 2001 255 days George W. Bush
Dan Bartlett[15] October 2, 2001 January 5, 2005 3 years, 95 days
Nicolle Wallace January 5, 2005 July 24, 2006 1 year, 200 days
Kevin Sullivan July 24, 2006 January 20, 2009 2 years, 180 days
Ellen Moran January 20, 2009 April 21, 2009 91 days Barack Obama
Anita Dunn
April 21, 2009 November 30, 2009 223 days
Dan Pfeiffer November 30, 2009 January 25, 2013 3 years, 56 days
Jennifer Palmieri January 25, 2013 April 1, 2015 2 years, 66 days
Jen Psaki April 1, 2015 January 20, 2017 1 year, 294 days
Sean Spicer January 20, 2017 March 6, 2017 45 days Donald Trump
Mike Dubke[16][17] March 6, 2017 June 2, 2017 88 days
Sean Spicer
June 2, 2017[19][20] July 21, 2017[21] 49 days
Anthony Scaramucci[22][23][24] July 21, 2017[25] July 31, 2017 10 days
Hope Hicks[26][27] August 16, 2017 March 29, 2018[28] 225 days


  1. ^ "White House Unit Takes on New Life", The Washington Post, November 26, 1973, p. 9.
  2. ^ Judiciary, United States Congress House Committee on the (1973). Impeachment: Selected Materials. Government Printing Office. ISBN 9780160577031. 
  3. ^ "Press Operations in White House Revised, With Politics Ruled Out", The New York Times, August 17, 1974, p. 15.
  4. ^ Klein, Betsy, and Noah Gray, "Melania Trump hires communications director", CNN, March 27, 2017. Retrieved March 27, 2017.
  5. ^ "Richard Nixon: Letter Accepting the Resignation of Herbert G. Klein as Director of Communications for the Executive Branch". 
  6. ^ a b Kumar, Martha Joynt (July 6, 2007). "Managing the President's Message: The White House Communications Operation". JHU Press – via Google Books. 
  7. ^ Shabecoff, Philip (July 13, 1976). "Ford Shifts and Expands Press Staff" – via 
  8. ^ "Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum". 
  9. ^ "URSOMARSO, FRANK: Files, 1981 (3.1 l.ft.; Box 1-8)" (PDF). 
  10. ^ "Ronald Reagan: Appointment of Frank A. Ursomarso as Director of the White House Office of Communications". 
  11. ^ "Key Reagan Administration Officials". 
  12. ^ "Letter Accepting the Resignation of John O. Koehler as Assistant to the President and Director of Communications". 
  13. ^ Appointment of Margaret DeBardeleben Tutwiler as Assistant to the President for Communications,
  14. ^ "William J. Clinton: Press Briefing by David Gergen and Mark Gearan". 
  15. ^ "George W. Bush: Statement by the Press Secretary: Bartlett Named White House Communications Director". 
  16. ^ "President Donald J. Trump Announces White House Staff Appointments",, March 6, 2017.
  17. ^ a b "Mysterious disappearance of Donald Trump's mouthpiece Sean Spicer". The New Zealand Herald. June 6, 2017. Retrieved June 6, 2017. 
  18. ^ The White House (July 21, 2017), Press Briefing with Principal Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, retrieved July 21, 2017 
  19. ^ Herman, Steve. "Shakeup Puts Different Face on White House Communications". VOA. Retrieved 2017-08-15. 
  20. ^ "Mysterious disappearance of Donald Trump's mouthpiece Sean Spicer". NZ Herald. Retrieved 2017-08-15. 
  21. ^ Shen, Lucinda (July 21, 2017). "Anthony Scaramucci Thinks the White House Is About to Have a 'Phenomenal Relationship' With the Press". Fortune. Retrieved August 13, 2017. 
  22. ^ Shear, Michael D.; Thrush, Glenn; Haberman, Maggie (July 31, 2017). "John Kelly, Asserting Authority, Fires Anthony Scaramucci". The New York Times. Retrieved August 1, 2017. 
  23. ^ TIME staff (July 31, 2017). "Watch Live: White House Holds Press Briefing After Anthony Scaramucci Resigns as Communications Director". TIME. Retrieved August 1, 2017. 
  24. ^ "Anthony Scaramucci: Five top tips to lose a job in 10 days". BBC News. 1 August 2017. Anthony Scaramucci had not yet made it to his official start date before he was fired 
  25. ^ Santos, Amanda Proença (July 31, 2017). "Scaramucci Sets New Record for Shortest Term as Communications Director". NBC News. Retrieved August 14, 2017. Though President Donald Trump appointed Scaramucci to the role 10 days ago, he only held the position for six days thanks to an official start date of July 25. 
  26. ^ "Hope Hicks tapped for interim White House communications director". Fox News. August 16, 2017. Retrieved August 16, 2017. 
  27. ^ Ballhaus, Rebecca (2017-09-12). "Hope Hicks Named Permanent White House Communications Director". The Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2018-03-04. 
  28. ^ Rogers, Katie; Haberman, Maggie (2018-03-29). "Hope Hicks is Gone, and It's Not Clear Who Can Replace Her". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-03-30. 


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