Spicer abruptly re­signs in protest over new di­rec­tor

Fi­nancier Scaramucci to lead communications

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Ken Thomas and Jill Colvin AFP

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.

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