Raj Shah becomes first Indian-American to "gaggle" with press
Raj Shah, the White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary, became the first Indian-American to "gaggle" with reporters aboard Air Force One. "Gaggle" refers to informal, non-video graphed but on-the-record briefings by the White House Press Secretary to reporters. Shah was traveling to Missouri with President Donald Trump. But who is Raj Shah? How did he join the White House? Read here.
In September, Shah was appointed Principal Deputy Press Secretary after Trump restructured his press office. Shah told reporters that the focus of Trump's remarks in Missouri would be on small businesses. He spoke of Trump's plans to push tax reform and tax cuts. During his 12-minute gaggle, he also answered questions about Trump's controversial tweets, North Korea, and tax cuts.
Shah, 33, was born and raised in Connecticut. His parents, who hail from Gujarat, moved to the US in the 1970s. His father was a mechanical engineer who later owned multiple retail stores, while his mother was a dentist. Both are now retired. Shah completed his schooling in Connecticut and went to Cornell University. He became politically active in university, but as a Democrat.
"I actually interned for a Democrat when I was in college," Shah told reporters recently. After delving more into political issues, Shah became a Republican. In 2005, he interned at the White House during the George W. Bush administration. After completing his college education, he joined the research wing of the Republican National Committee and rose to the position of director of opposition research.
When Trump became president, Shah joined the White House as Deputy Communications Director and Research Director. "This is a lot of fun to represent the president, to represent his views not just to a domestic and international audience," Shah told reporters following his promotion. He was named as one of the Trump administration's top Indian-American performers by US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley.