WASHINGTON — White House press secretary Sean Spicer resigned Friday morning, capping off a rollercoaster six-month tenure as the chief spokesman for an administration besieged by a steady drumbeat of controversy.
“It’s been an honor & a privilege to serve @POTUS @realDonaldTrump & this amazing country. I will continue my service through August,” Spicer tweeted.
Spicer’s resignation came after New York financier and former Trump campaign fundraiser Anthony Scaramucci accepted the position as White House communications director, a move Spicer adamantly opposed. His resignation came in spite of President Donald Trump’s request that he remain in this position, a White House official and top GOP advisers said.
The resignation marked the end of one of the most tumultuous tenures for a White House press secretary, one that saw Spicer repeatedly undermined in his role as the White House’s public-facing spokesman by the President’s own public statements and tweets.
Spicer handled the responsibilities of both press secretary and communications director for much of the time, overseeing the White House’s response to a near non-stop deluge of controversy, particularly concerning the widening federal investigation into potential ties between Trump campaign associates and Russian officials.
White House chief of staff Reince Priebus introduced Scaramucci as the new communications director to a round of applause, according to a source in the room.
The source told CNN that Spicer said Scaramucci was going to do a great job and will help with transition. He thanked the team, who gave him a round of applause. The source added that Spicer was really upset but handled the introduction for Scaramucci well.
White House staffers are “shocked” by Spicer’s sudden resignation, two administration officials told CNN.
Trump wanted Scaramucci in the White House
Scaramucci’s hiring began to come together Thursday night, but as news of the hire began to leak, Spicer, Priebus and chief strategist Steve Bannon found themselves largely in the dark — unaware of the President’s already firm intention to tap Scaramucci for the top communications post, largely at the urging of his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner and his daughter Ivanka Trump.
Priebus, whose fraught relationship with Scaramucci is well-known, said Friday that he supports the new communications director “100%.”
“We go back a long way and are very good friends,” Priebus said. “All good here.”
But Scaramucci’s appointment rocked a West Wing that was deeply divided over Scaramucci’s hire, with sources telling CNN that both Priebus and Bannon fiercely opposed Scaramucci’s hire while the President’s son-in-law and daughter, who are both top advisers, encouraged the move.
Trump has been pushing for Scaramucci to come in for a while, according to a source familiar with the decision.
That source told CNN that since the communications director job was open, Trump realized he would install Scaramucci in that role. This source added that Spicer worried Scaramucci wouldn’t know Washington and that it would fall to Spicer to do both jobs, which he considered to be untenable.
Spicer’s job tough since Day 1
Spicer was repeatedly thrust into a combative role, ordered by the President to take to the briefing room on his first full day in office to lambast the media for coverage of the size of the crowd that attended Trump’s inauguration.
The moment quickly defined Spicer’s public-facing relationship with the press and his daily White House briefing quickly became must-watch TV.
One White House official said he believes a “fresh start will inject some energy” in a communications operation that has been besieged for weeks by the deluge of Russia-related reports and a sense of disarray.
After being pulled away from the daily televised briefing, which had vaulted a one-time Washington hand into infamous status, Spicer told reporters he would move to an elevated role in the West Wing and would help choose his successor as press secretary.
That didn’t happen, a point finally made clear Friday when Trump offered the chief communications job to Scaramucci. Not long after, Spicer resigned.