Through the main gates of Georgetown University last month, Farah Griffin stepped out of her Uber in a scarlet pantsuit. It was a cool autumn day and as we walked towards Healy Hall, Farah Griffin warned that she had no idea how many students would be showing up for the last meeting of her discussion group, “The Future of American Democracy Amid the ‘MAGA’ Movement.” She applied for the scholarship program last year but didn’t get it; this year, Georgetown reached out.
Inside the office of GU Politics, CNN legal analyst and colleague of Farah Griffin Eliot Williams was ending. As a dozen students arrived, Farah Griffin pulled out a bag of assorted candy and added her copy of Valerie Biden Owens’ book to a shelf. (“I got him signed to Georgetown,” she later explained.) Photos of notable people GU Politics hosted—Mark Zuckerberg, Paul Ryan – graced the walls.
“Anyone who’s had COVID, welcome back,” Farah Griffin announced, kicking off with an icebreaker. This week’s “What’s Your Serial Killer Trait” was about 15 minutes long. (Farah Griffin’s: “For a while I decided I didn’t like milk, so I’d take cereal with water.”) She then dove into a recent Atlantic article in which Trump supporters explained why they believe the election was stolen – the goal being to get students to see, contrary to what their perceptions may be, what actually “motivates Trump voters ,” a topic that, along with tangents on vaccine hesitancy, took up most of the 90 minutes.
A freshman named Ava told me on the way out that she learned more from Farah Griffin than any other classmate, even, she revealed in a low voice, as a Democrat. “At first it was like she was working for Trump. I’m fundamentally, ideologically opposed to her. But just coming to a few of her talks” – including the one where she brought Jake Sherman— she was struck by Farah Griffin’s emphasis on “humanity rather than political identification,” she says. “I mean, I still don’t agree with her, but I think she’s amazing.”
After class, Farah Griffin and I found a booth at The Tombs, that brick-walled, dimly lit Georgetown haunt that inspired the titular bar of Fire of St. Elmo. (Not Farah Griffin’s first choice, which was closed, but the one she concluded, as her stilettos clicked against the cobblestone streets, was “actually a lot more my vibe.”)
Sitting across from her in that basement rathskeler, I wondered who Farah Griffin was, after making all those headlines proclaim she would never again vote for Trump, to whom she will become attached in the future. I asked her if she would vote for Ron DeSantis. “It depends. I should see where his policies are at,” she said over a glass of pinot grigio. It was a somewhat shocking non-answer about a Republican Party figure seemingly as dedicated as Trump to raise the temperature of conservative politics. What about the positions he’s already taken? “For most politicians – not Trump – leadership tends to nudge them towards moderation,” he says. she, “a DeSantis in the White House would be very different from a DeSantis governing Florida at a time when Florida is very red, thinking of running for president.”
Farah Griffin doesn’t see herself running for anything right now, only because she’s “not someone who could win a Republican primary right now,” but wants to “be part of the discussion when we do of course”. For now, however, she says she’s not actively soliciting political work or getting paid to advise Republicans (although she does so in an unofficial, unpaid capacity). She considers her full-time job to be at Merrimack Potomac + Charles, the strategy consulting firm where she serves as a senior adviser (and where her stepfather, Patrick Griffin, is a founding partner and CEO). There’s also the CNN gig, two paid speaking offices she’s signed to, and whatever episodes of View he is asked to co-host until they make a decision. She was just on the show last week, when Hostin dragged her on air for defending Esper’s “apology tour.” The moment done securities.
That the competition for McCain’s seat has, at least on the surface, narrowed down to two former Trump officials both trying to reframe their histories is no coincidence. View is a platform with its own account, a platform that gives Farah Griffin the opportunity to put her experience to good use at the moment. “I think I could be useful,” she said. She talks a lot about her commitment to public service; daytime television is not that. But it could be a decade before she gets another opportunity to take on a senior government role, Farah Griffin admits. “I would have a hard time saying no to a show that reaches the number of viewers that this show does.”