Spicer abruptly resigns in protest over new director
Financier Scaramucci to lead communications
The Associated Press
White House press secretary Sean Spicer abruptly resigned Friday, ending a rocky six-month tenure that made his news briefings defending President Donald Trump must-see TV. He said Trump’s communications team “could benefit from a clean slate” as the White House seeks to steady operations amid the Russia investigations and ahead of a health care showdown.
Spicer quit in protest over the hiring of the new White House communications director, New York financier Anthony Scaramucci, objecting to what Spicer considered his lack of qualifications as well as the direction of the media operation, according to people familiar with the situation. Scaramucci, a polished television commentator and Harvard Law graduate, took center stage at a briefing, parrying questions from reporters and commending Trump in a 37-minute charm offensive.
As his first act, Scaramucci announced that Sarah Huckabee Sanders would be the new press secretary.
The shake-up comes as Trump is suffering from dismal approval ratings and struggling to advance his agenda. The president has been frustrated by the attention devoted to investigations of allegations of his election campaign’s connections to Russia.
Trump, who watches the press briefings closely and believes he is his own best spokesman, in a statement saluted Spicer’s “great ratings” on TV and said he was “grateful for Sean’s work on behalf of my administration and the American people.”
Scaramucci, in an appearance after his appointment was made official, flashed the television skills that Trump has long valued: He praised Trump’s political instincts and competitiveness, cracked a few self-deprecating jokes and battled with reporters who categorized the West Wing as dysfunctional, saying “there is a disconnect” between the media and the way the public sees the president.
“The president has really good karma and the world turns back to him,” he said.
Spicer said during a brief phone conversation with The Associated Press that he felt it would be best for Scaramucci to build his own operation “and chart a new way forward.” He tweeted that it had been an “honor” and “privilege” to serve Trump. He will remain in his post through August.
The White House has been looking for a new communications director for several weeks, but struggled to attract an experienced Republican. Scaramuuci began seriously talking to the White House about the position this week, and Trump formally offered him the job Friday morning.
A person with knowledge of the decision said Trump has been impressed by Scaramucci’s defense of the White House on television and his handling of a recent incident with CNN. The cable channel retracted a story about Scaramucci and fired three journalists.
A shift in tone and style was immediate. Scaramucci’s delivery was smooth and polished. Unlike Spicer, who had an at-times combative relationship with the press, Scaramucci was warm and more measured as he took questions.
He will continue the West Wing’s plan to push back against media reports it doesn’t like — and do a better job of selling its victories.
“The president is a winner. And we’re going to do a lot of winning,” said Scaramucci, who blew a kiss to the press corps before departing.