Indian-American Raj Shah holds press gaggle on board Air Force One

The White House press office took a positive step in its media interactions. Raj Shah, who holds a key position in the White House, gaggled with reporters on board Air Force One, becoming the first Indian-American to enjoy the privilege.

Principal Deputy Press Secretary
White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah. Photo courtesy: Twitter

Shah, 33, did so in the capacity of Principal Deputy Press Secretary, a position to which he was promoted by US President Donald Trump in September as the latter restructured his press office by making Hope Hicks Director of Communications, agencies reported.

Shah was accompanying Trump as he flew to Missouri to deliver a major speech on middle-class tax relief and business tax relief. Mid-way to St Louis, Shah, the highest ranking Indian-American ever in the White House press office, gaggled with the travelling press corp. Gaggle is the term used for informal briefing by the White House Press Secretary, which is on the record but bars reporters from videographing.

“We’re looking forward to the President’s remarks later today. It will be in St. Charles, talking about the need for middle-class tax relief and business tax relief,” Shah said in his opening remarks. “The focus of today’s remarks are going to be on small businesses. He’s going to feature two specific small businesses. One is a local small business incubator, and the other is a jewellery business — they’re a retail business that also wholesales to about two and a half dozen different retailers throughout the country,” he said.

“So we’re very excited about these remarks, and we’re excited about the developments on pushing tax reform and tax cuts. And the President is going to make a push for ‘Yea’ votes,” Shah said after which he took questions from the White House travelling press.

Air Force One on the ground.
Air Force One on the ground. Photo courtesy:

The questions ranged from the President’s controversial tweets, to North Korea, and tax cuts. The gaggle lasted for about 12 minutes.

Shah was born in 1984 to Indian parents of Gujarati origin. Shah’s parents moved to Chicago in 1970s and then moved to Connecticut where he was born and raised. His father was a mechanical engineer, but later moved in the business and owned retail stores. His mother was a dentist. Both are now leading a retired life. After his schooling in Connecticut, Shah went to the Cornell University.

He interned in the Bush White House in the Summer of 2005. And just out of college, he got a job in the research wing of the Republican National Committee. Shah joined the White House right from the day the Trump administration took charge. He was made the Deputy Communications Director and Research Director at the White House. Previously, he was director of Opposition Research in the Republican National Committee.

Tushaar Kuthiala
Tushaar Kuthiala – Associate Editor

Tushaar has extensive experience as a journalist and in founding two start-up newspapers. He has developed editorial models for both copy and content, and has written several articles, news reports on a wide range of topics. He is a graduate of St. Stephen’s College and earned a post-graduate diploma in TV Journalism from the Asian College of Journalism (ACJ), Chennai. He has worked as a special correspondent based in New Delhi with Daily World, an international media organisation. 


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