White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer resigned Friday.
Spicer objected to the appointment of Anthony Scaramucci as White House communications director at around 10 a.m. Friday morning, according to several reports, but from outward appearances, Spicer’s departure is a long time coming.
For months, reports have surfaced that President Trump has been unhappy with Spicer’s performance at the podium during press conferences, and Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has assumed that role more and more frequently. It is unclear at this point who will take on the press secretary role permanently.
The White House had been without a communications director since May, when Mike Dubke resigned from the role in the first personnel shakeup of the Trump administration. Spicer had taken on the responsibilities associated with the job in the interim and strongly opposed Trump’s decision to hire Scaramucci, according to reports.
Sean Spicer said to be seeking a new role away from press briefings
Spicer’s future behind the podium of the James S Brady Press Briefing Room had long been tenuous, as his tenure was marked by almost continuous controversy.
From his very first appearance before the cameras, when he angrily chastised the media over the crowd size at Trump’s presidential inauguration, Spicer swiftly emerged as ridiculed figure for his aggressive attitude towards journalists, false statements and gaffes.
He was memorably mocked by the actor Melissa McCarthy on NBC’s Saturday Night Live, an act that deeply irked Trump, who saw Spicer’s portrayal by a woman as a sign of weakness. Reports would frequently surface of the White House searching for possible replacements for Spicer, with some candidates acknowledging to the media that they had been interviewed for the job, an unusually public slight for an administration official of such high rank.
Perhaps the most damaging blow to Spicer came during Trump’s first foreign trip as president, when the press secretary, a devout Catholic, was shut out of a meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican.
One of Spicer’s most egregious gaffes came in April, when, in an attempt to highlight the barbarity of Syria’s embattled president Bashar al-Assad, Spicer stated that “not even Hitler” employed the use of chemical weapons, despite the fact that Nazis killed millions with poison gas during the Holocaust.
Spicer apologized repeatedly, saying he had “made a mistake” and “screwed up”.
It was one of a series of gaffes in his short career as Trump’s press secretary.
The Trump-Spicer marriage may have been destined for an early divorce from the start. Spicer, who previously worked as the communications director of the Republican National Committee, was not an early supporter of Trump during the GOP primary.
It was also rumored in Washington that Trump, who deeply values loyalty, had soured on Spicer early on in his tenure as press secretary – perhaps as early as his first press statement, when Spicer angrily berated reporters and gave false information about the size of Trump’s inauguration crowd.
His rumored departure has been one of the longest-running internal sagas in an administration brimming with dissension and intrigue. A former Republican National Committee spokesman and strategist, Mr. Spicer was a frequent target of the president’s ire — and correctives — during the first few months of the administration.
His resignation is a blow to the White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, the former Republican Party chairman who brought Mr. Spicer into the West Wing despite skepticism from Mr. Trump, who initially questioned his loyalty.
Mr. Scaramucci was to meet with Mr. Priebus on Friday, according to a West Wing official — and applause could be heard in the second-floor communications hallway when Mr. Scaramucci was introduced.
During the transition, Mr. Trump had planned to appoint Mr. Scaramucci, a 52-year-old Harvard Law graduate from Long Island, as director of his office of public liaison, but the offer was pulled at the request of Mr. Priebus over concerns about Mr. Scaramucci’s overseas investments.
Mr. Trump made the appointment over the objection of Mr. Priebus, who thought Mr. Scaramucci lacked the requisite organizational or political experience. But the president believed Mr. Scaramucci, a ferocious defender of Mr. Trump’s on cable television, was best equipped to play the same role in-house, and he offered him a role with far-reaching powers independent of Mr. Priebus’s.
Mr. Spicer flatly rejected the president’s offer of a position subordinate to Mr. Scaramucci, according to two administration officials familiar with the exchange.
The appointment of Mr. Scaramucci, a favorite of Mr. Trump’s earliest campaign supporters, was backed by the president’s daughter Ivanka, his son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, the officials said.
Sources: The Guardian, Esquire, and NY Times