White House spokesman Sean Spicer has resigned, ending a brief and turbulent tenure that made him a household name, amid further upheaval within US President Donald Trump’s inner circle.
- Sean Spicer resigned to give incoming communications director Anthony Scaramucci “a fresh start”
- Sarah Sanders is named new press secretary by Mr Scaramucci
- US President Donald Trump said he was grateful for Mr Spicer’s work
While not a surprise, Mr Spicer’s departure was abrupt and reflected turmoil in Mr Trump’s legal and media teams amid a widening investigation of possible ties between Mr Trump’s campaign and Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
Sarah Sanders was named as the new press secretary by her new boss, Anthony Scaramucci, at a White House briefing with reporters.
Mr Scaramucci, a former Wall Street financier, was named as the administration’s new top communications official.
A Republican close to the White House told Reuters that Mr Trump settled on Mr Scaramucci for the job on Thursday and met with him on Friday morning (local time) to formally offer it to him.
After news of Mr Scaramucci’s hiring leaked, the official said, Mr Spicer met with Mr Trump in the Oval Office and “basically gave an ultimatum ‘that it was him or me'”.
When Mr Trump would not budge, Mr Spicer resigned, just over six months into his role, the official said.
“Well it’s been an honour and a privilege to serve this president in this country,” Mr Spicer told Fox News.
“I just think it was in the best interest of our communications department, of our press organisation to not have too many cooks in the kitchen.”
Forty-five-year-old Mr Spicer, a veteran Washington staffer, was parodied memorably by actress Melissa McCarthy on the Saturday Night Live TV comedy show for his combative encounters with the White House press corps.
‘I love the President, I love the team’: Scaramucci
Mr Trump said in a statement read by Ms Sanders that he was “grateful” for Mr Spicer’s “work on behalf of my administration and the American people”.
“I wish him continued success as he moves on to pursue new opportunities: Just look at his great television ratings,” he said.
Speaking after Ms Sanders, Mr Scaramucci told reporters: “I love the President… It’s an honour to be here.”
Asked how he was going to right the White House ship, Mr Scaramucci said there was nothing to fix.
“The ship is going in the right direction. I like the team. Let me rephrase that: I love the team,” he said.
Mr Scaramucci said he had worked to make sure he had no conflicts of interests stemming from his wide-ranging business activities. He was formerly a hedge fund manager and Goldman Sachs banker.
A person with knowledge of the decision said Mr Trump had been impressed by Mr Scaramucci’s defence of the White House on television and his handling of a recent incident with CNN. The cable channel retracted a story about Mr Scaramucci and fired three journalists.
Mr Spicer congratulated Mr Scaramucci on his new position, saying: “It’ll be great, he’s a tough guy.”
He said he felt it would be best for Mr Scaramucci to build his own operation “and chart a new way forward”.
Mr Trump later took to Twitter to thank Mr Spicer for his service, adding “his future is bright”.
From the start, Mr Spicer invited controversy, attacking the media in his debut appearance as press secretary for reporting what he called inaccurate crowd numbers at Mr Trump’s inauguration.
“This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe,” he said, an assertion that quickly drew scorn.
Before being tapped by Mr Trump for the job of press secretary, Mr Spicer was spokesman for the Republican National Committee.
He also had previously worked in the administration of former president George W Bush, a time when he dressed up in an Easter Bunny costume for the annual White House Easter Egg Roll.
Mr Spicer and other Trump aides shook up White House dealings with the media, including cutting back daily televised news briefings and replacing them with audio briefings only.
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