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The 33-year-old California native chatted with PEOPLE on the day her View gig was officially announced (Aug. 4), revealing that before the ABC daytime show's viewers learned she had landed the job, she asked former co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck for some guidance.
"I had a fabulous conversation with Elisabeth," said Farah Griffin. "I was a huge fan of hers; we're both Christians, we're both people of faith, and I watched her for so many years, so that was the dream person I wanted to talk to ahead of the announcement."
Farah Griffin — who was former Vice President Mike Pence's press secretary and the youngest Pentagon press secretary in history before serving as White House director of strategic communications under former President Donald Trump — went on to say that Hasselbeck gave her "very good advice."
"She said, 'Own your chair. You are not there just representing yourself, but [also] conservatives or right-of-center people, many in the middle of the country, who often feel like their voices aren't heard. So [stand] firm in your convictions, but be gracious in your delivery,'" Farrah Griffin recalled. "And that is what I'm trying to do."
Elsewhere during her chat with PEOPLE, Farrah Griffin opened up about her fellow co-hosts, being a Republican in the age of Trump and why The View was must-see TV during her time in the White House. Read below for the full discussion:
PEOPLE: Congratulations on the official announcement. After 30 visits to the show, it must feel nice to know you'll be a co-host on your next one!
ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN: It is, thank you. I am just thrilled, honored, humbled, so many words. But it finally feels real. I've known the news for a little bit, and finally having it come out was just, it's a dream come true. So I'm just so excited.
You're joining a show that, over the course of 25 years, has no doubt made a huge cultural impact. How does it feel to be a part of its history?
There's no better way to describe The View than truly iconic. And thinking back on when the show was launched, the idea of bringing together women from totally different viewpoints — women from the entertainment field, journalists, lawyers, political commentators — and having them talk about issues that, frankly, at that time, you didn't really even talk about on daytime TV? It was such a gamble, but so groundbreaking. And it's iconic because it's really set the tone for women speaking up and speaking out. I never could have dreamed that I would be at this table, and I'm so deeply, deeply honored to be there.
Lou Rocco/ABC via Getty
The New York Times famously dubbed The View "the most important political TV show in America." While you were working in the White House, what was your impression of The View? It's interesting you ask that. So I did two stints in the White House, two years as Vice President Mike Pence's press secretary — where I worked over in the EOB, but I was in the West Wing a lot when I was meeting with the VP — and then my stint, an eight-month tour working for Donald Trump as White House communications director. And in both roles, we'd always have the quad TVs up, as you call them, which would be CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, and then someone would put on, say, CNBC. But at 11 a.m., I would always, without fail, put on The View.
Now, I watched The View for many years before that but to me, in those three years, it was must-watch TV. Working in this very political environment, going into an election cycle, I knew it was something I couldn't miss. And I couldn't take my eyes off of it.
What was it?
The show just has a way of driving news; of driving the conversation. And it's not just politics, but it's culture. It's an incredibly powerful platform. Among the millions of viewers are a diverse crop of people. It's women, it's men, it's gay Americans, it's straight Americans; the age range is vast; There's people from different socioeconomic brackets. There's something that really brings people together about the format. You look at this table and these women may have nothing in common, but there's a bond; there's an affection there. They're willing to tackle tough issues in a way that, frankly — as somebody who spent my life in politics — our political leaders aren't even willing to do as forcefully. So I think it's inspiring to people, honestly.
Lou Rocco/ABC via Getty
You're stepping into the conservative seat that has been held by a few of the show's most controversial co-hosts, like Meghan McCain and Elisabeth Hasselbeck. You even said in your speech on The View that "it's going to get sporty sometimes." But you also spoke a lot about unification, not division.
Yeah, that's extremely important to me. My background is pretty unique from other conservative hosts. Nicole Wallace probably would've been the closest. I was a senior spokesperson for some of the most powerful men in the country, and that put me in incredibly challenging situations. I also own that I worked for one of the most, if not the most, divisive president in history. And I learned a lot from that, as I would hope anyone would.
I walked away committed to feeling in my bone that I want to be part of solutions, not adding to the division. So rather than go on hyper-partisan TV, where I'm just going to agree with everyone around me, I want to have a really thoughtful conversation with really smart Democrats, like former federal prosecutor Sunny Hostin; someone who knows her stuff. She is so far left of me, but I know we're going to have thoughtful, serious conversations.
That's a different approach, certainly than we've seen in the past.
Well I want to model what we're often not seeing in our elected officials. I can disagree with you, and I'm going to, but I'm way more focused on advancing good, on advancing bringing people together and leaving this era of just blatant toxicity behind us.
Brandon Bell/Getty; Drew Angerer/Getty
One thing that's come up a few times during your previous appearances on The View is, "Why did you wait so long to resign from Trump's administration?" Are you prepared to continue to explain that to your critics?
Definitely. The TV format doesn't always lend itself well to giving your full biography — and there's more interesting things in my full biography, in my opinion. But it's important people know I was honored to work for Vice President Pence. I'm a conservative. I agreed with probably 75% of his positions. I've been outspoken. I have a different view on things like marriage equality, for example. But I know him to be a good man, a patriot, and a serious person.
With Trump, I actually declined to work directly under him early when he came into office in 2017 because I had concerns about the man, who he was and the people around him. So I went to the Department of Defense, where I was the youngest Pentagon press secretary in history. We dealt with only apolitical matters. It was one team, one fight. Most of my colleagues were uniform military. I reported to civilian leadership and to four-star generals. It was a tremendous growing experience for me.
After those eight months, I went back to the West Wing, which I'm sure in so many people's minds define me, but they're only part of who I am. And what I would say is I could spend rest of my life debating if I ever should have gone there, but I know the growth that came from it. I know the voice I found from working for Trump and realizing that he is not a man I could ever support being an office again.
So you won't be voting for him if he runs in 2024?
He is wholly unfit to be in office.
Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty
Back in January, it was reported that you were part of a group of about three dozen erstwhile Trump advisers who were coming together to strategized ways to counter his efforts both at this year's midterm elections and in the 2024 race for the White House, which is almost certain to feature Trump. Is that group still active?
It took on another form and while I'm friends with the people involved, I'm not active in it. [Former Department of Homeland Security Chief of Staff] Miles Taylor — someone who I think super highly of, he famously wrote the anonymous New York Times op-ed — he's taken it a direction of trying to start a third party.
Do you think a third party is a good idea?
This is something I'd love to talk about on air. Third parties don't work in our current climate, and I actually think could end up doing more to boost Trump than to hurt Biden. So I support him in that I root for the best for him, but I can't get behind that effort personally.
I am still a registered Republican. I have no intention of changing that. This is a party that believes in a strong national defense ... something that is personal to me, [having been] at the Department of Defense when our air bases were attacked. It is near and dear to my heart. But I also care about creating the most inclusive economy that brings the most people up, and gives them a chance at their own American dream is something I care so much about.
You're a Republican but how would you describe yourself? You're clearly not a "Trump Republican," as a sect of the party now seems to identify. Are you a liberal Republican?
I'm a conservative Republican. But not to get into policy, my party needs to change. I am adamantly, fervently, proudly pro-marriage equality. I have been since I stood on the steps of the Supreme Court in 2015, when Obergefell came down. I am going to be outspoken that my party needs to codify [marriage equality] into law. It needs to come into the 21st century. So I want to be part of the fixing what the future of the Republican Party should be in casting behind us into the ash heap of history what Donald Trump has done to it.
It's going to take the audience getting to know me. And the great thing about The View, we have such loyal viewers. So I think the more they get to know me, the more they're going to understand we can be reductive how we look at people in public life. But there's 50 shades of nuance to my views, to my background. And you're going to see that as we talk about these huge issues that we are tackling going into the midterms, going into 2024.
Erin Scott/Bloomberg via Getty
It must have taken courage to speak out against Trump. You mentioned doing so left you with fractured relationships. Are there still have White House colleagues who you talk to? Do they feel betrayed by you for speaking out against the false election claims and the resurrection?
I resigned before Jan. 6. When the election lies started being shared, I couldn't put my name to it. I couldn't put my conscience to it. So I resigned. But I didn't forcefully speak out until Jan. 6th, and I haven't stopped since.
That day — Jan. 6, Jan. 7 — I knew certain relationships were probably broken beyond repair. Not on my end, but people who would see me as disloyal, no longer part of the team. And I've made a great deal of peace with that. I do still have some incredibly valued friendships with people I serve with in the White House. I've talked about how Cassidy Hutchinson, who spoke out so bravely and so boldly in the January 6th committee hearings, was my closest friend in the White House. In fact, my husband told her before he was going to propose to me so I'd remember to get my nails done because that's just not something I remember to do. We were very, very close. We remain close. And Sarah Matthews, who herself has come forward, is someone I'm close with. And I've relied on these women for strength in this post-White House era.
But one thing I want the viewers to know is just because I'm no friend of Donald Trump's — he's attacked me personally many times — doesn't mean I'm not extremely tied in in Republican politics. Governors call me, presidential hopefuls call me, I talk to a lot of House and Senate members... I've had great longstanding relationships. What I find is a lot of Republicans are much closer to where I am privately, they just don't feel empowered to be there publicly. So I still consider myself very much a Republican insider, just not a Trump insider.
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Lou Rocco/ABC/Getty Alyssa Farah Griffin (R) on The View
You sang the praises of your new View co-hosts on Thursday's show, but added, "I can't say how much I've learned from all of you."
I had something prepared for each of them and had I had more time, I would've said it on air! I adore them.
Let's hear it now; what have you learned from them? We can start with Sunny Hostin.
Sunny, I adore her. She's brilliant. She is important for me to have gotten to know because we come from such different backgrounds and lived experiences. We can all be guilty of falling into our echo chambers, surrounding ourselves with people saying certain things so you see it that way. But one episode — I wasn't on, I was just watching as a viewer — Sunny gave a really passionate appeal on why she cares about critical race theory and why she wants it to be taught. She explained it and walked through, as a parent, why that's something so important to her. And in my Republican circles, I have my views which are much more nuanced. I'm open to critical race theory, so long as the parents support it. But in my Republican circles, all I'm hearing is, "no parent wants this." So to hear that from a mom who loves her two kids so much, explaining why she sees it important to their upbringing, I just thought was so valuable. That's one very specific thing, but she's a tremendous woman.
Joy's so strong in her convictions, but she has a way of delivering the toughest blow with humor. Humor is one of the greatest healers and our country needs more of it. So even if it's a whole riff on, "Holy crap, where's our country going?" — Joy's able to bring it back down. That's why she's had such a fan base for so long, because you want to know the truth; you want to be told the truth, but you want to also feel good; and you want to feel hopeful, that things could be better.
Sara is kind and thoughtful. She probably holds the viewpoints of the most people I know. I run in Republican circles, but the moderate thoughtful, it doesn't fit into any one box. Sara's ability to articulate it, and to do it gracefully, I find so inspiring. She's virtually never combative.
What about Ana Navarro, who was also announced as a co-host with you on Thursday?
Ana also has an extraordinary sense of humor that makes her points almost more powerful. She did a shtick on when so-called "Don't Say Gay" bill came down in Florida. She wore a rainbow dress and was like, "This is my protest." Those viral moments pack more punch off often than the best-written press release.
And finally, Whoopi Goldberg?
Look, I don't need to tell you, Whoopi's an icon. People love her. They adore her. I followed her career my entire life. She resonates with people. She'll tell the audience, "Don't let anyone tell you things are decided. This is where the country's going. It's up to you. Vote. Use your vote." And she's spoken to me privately about how, as a Black woman, it's important to cherish, capture and encourage others to use their vote because she didn't always have it. Women didn't always have it.
Lastly, your husband Justin was there in the audience when the big announcement was made. What did that mean to you to have his support?
He's the best. There has been no greater source of strength and support for me than my husband. This poor man. He's been through the ringer with me. We got engaged when I was in the Trump White House. It was tough for him. Our family, by the way, doesn't look much different than The View table. We've got conservatives, and we've got far left liberals. And so we are also living and breathing trying to exercise what the women do at the table. But he supported me completely through it. We did go through wedding delays because of COVID. We ended up doing a smaller one in Vero Beach, Florida this past November. The best day of my life. And he's my rock. He's my strength. And he's the most important person in the world to me.
Season 26 of The View kicks off Sept. 6 on ABC (check local listings).