Kathy Griffin Reveals She Never Considered Leaving the U.S. After Trump Photo Scandal

"I am so grateful for the freedoms I have here," the comedian tells PEOPLE in this week's issue

Though friends like Sharon Stone advised Kathy Griffin to leave the country after a controversial photoshoot involving a bloody image of President Donald Trump nearly ended the comedian’s career two years ago, she never thought about fleeing.

“It will piss some people off to hear me say this, but I’m an American girl,” Griffin, 58, tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue.

“I am American all the way. I complain a lot about sexism and misogyny, but I’m well aware there are many, many countries where I could not do this for a living,” she says. “I am so grateful for the freedoms I have here. I’ve always been a student of the First Amendment, and now I really know it.”

  • For more from Kathy Griffin, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday
Kathy Griffin
Jana Cruder

When the photo of Griffin holding up a Halloween mask of the President with ketchup poured on it to resemble blood went viral, she lost endorsement deals, a comedy tour and her long-standing gig as the co-host of CNN’s New Year’s Eve coverage with Anderson Cooper. Griffin also landed on the no-fly list and became the subject of an FBI investigation that she calls “unprecedented.”

Once the FBI dropped her case and she was removed from the no-fly list, the former Fashion Police host turned to her fans overseas and booked shows in over 15 countries in a matter of weeks.

RELATED VIDEO: Where Kathy Griffin and Anderson Cooper’s Relationship Stands Today: ‘I’m Done Chasing People’

“When you’re not the pretty girl, and you’re not the biggest star, you get scrappy,” Griffin says.

After earning more than $2 million abroad on her Laugh Your Head Off tour, she launched a North American run in 2018. The two-time Emmy winner didn’t hesitate to address the Trump photo scandal during the tour, which sold out New York City’s Carnegie Hall, and now she’s sharing how the controversial image changed her life in a new concert documentary, Kathy Griffin: A Hell of a Story.

And while Griffin may be back in the game, she jokes, “I have three friends on a good day.”

Kathy Griffin: A Hell of a Story is in theaters now.

Related Articles