White House press sec­re­tary re­signs

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE -

White House press sec­re­tary Sean Spicer, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s em­bat­tled spokesman dur­ing the first six months of his pres­i­dency, is re­sign­ing his po­si­tion, ac­cord­ing to two peo­ple with knowl­edge of the de­ci­sion.

Spicer’s de­ci­sion ap­pears to be linked to the ap­point­ment of a new White House com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor, New York fi­nancier An­thony Scara­mucci.

The peo­ple with knowl­edge of the de­ci­sion spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause they were not au­tho­rized to dis­cuss the per­son­nel mat­ter pub­licly.

Spicer’s daily press brief­ings had be­come must­see tele­vi­sion un­til re­cent weeks when he took on a more be­hind-the-scenes role.

Deputy press sec­re­tary Sarah Huck­abee San­ders has largely taken over the brief­ings, turn­ing them into an off-cam­era event.

Spicer spent sev­eral years lead­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions at the Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee be­fore help­ing Trump’s cam­paign in the gen­eral elec­tion. He is close to White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, the for­mer RNC chair, and sev­eral of the lower-rank­ing aides in the White House com­mu­ni­ca­tions shop.

Priebus told The As­so­ci­ated Press that he sup­ports Scara­mucci “100 per cent,” de­spite re­port­edly try­ing to pre­vent the fi­nancier from get­ting mul­ti­ple ad­min­is­tra­tion po­si­tions.

“We go back a long, long way and are very good friends,” Priebus said of Scara­mucci. “All good here.”

Scara­mucci is ex­pected to play a vis­i­ble role as one of Trump’s de­fend­ers on tele­vi­sion. But Spicer and other of­fi­cials ques­tioned his hir­ing as com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor ahead of the pres­i­dent’s push to over­haul the tax sys­tem and other pol­icy is­sues. One of the of­fi­cials said Spicer ob­jected to Trump’s vi­sion for the fu­ture of the press op­er­a­tion.

Spicer’s res­ig­na­tion set off a chaotic scene in the White House brief­ing room, as jour­nal­ists gath­ered near a door­way seek­ing more de­tails on his de­par­ture. White House of­fi­cials had yet to an­nounce the tim­ing of the daily brief­ing — and who would be con­duct­ing it.

Spicer’s ten­ure got off to a rocky start. On Trump’s first full day in of­fice, Spicer lam­basted jour­nal­ists over cov­er­age of the crowd size at the in­au­gu­ra­tion and stormed out of the brief­ing room with­out an­swer­ing ques­tions.

Spicer, who of­ten dis­played a fiery de­meanour in tense on-cam­era ex­changes with re­porters, be­came part of cul­ture in the way few peo­ple in his job have, par­tic­u­larly through an in­deli­ble im­per­son­ation by Melissa McCarthy on NBC’s “Satur­day Night Live.”

She por­trayed Spicer as a hos­tile fig­ure who tore through the brief­ing room on a por­ta­ble podium, will­ing to at­tack the press.

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