The tumultuous tenure of Sean Spicer as White House press secretary came to an end Friday when he stepped aside to make room for an avid supporter of President Donald Trump to take the job of communications director.
Word of Spicer’s departure came as the White House announced Anthony Scaramucci, a former Wall Street investor and vocal Trump supporter, had been named to head the White House communications office.
Sarah Sanders, who served as deputy press secretary under Spicer, was appointed to take Spicer’s job.
Spicer said on Twitter it had been an “honour and a privilege” to serve Trump and the country, adding that he will leave the White House in August.
Spicer, 45, resigned after Trump appointed Scaramucci, founder of the SkyBridge Capital hedge fund, to be his boss, the New York Times reported. The newspaper said Spicer disagreed with the appointment.
But Scaramucci denied there was any “friction” between him and Spicer after he was formally introduced in the White House briefing room and stayed at the lectern to take questions.
“Remember, I’m a businessperson, and so, what happens in business a lot of the times is you have some rotation in personnel … and you have lifestyle choices that people are also making,” he said.
He said he would love to have Spicer on his staff, but Spicer decided it would be better for him to “clear the slate” for Scaramucci. “I do appreciate that about Sean and I love him for it.”
Scaramucci also expressed love and admiration for the president during the briefing, calling him “the most savvy person in the White House” on getting out his message. He said helping that effort would be his main goal.
He said he sees “disconnect” between the way he and other supporters of the president see Trump and the way he is portrayed in the media. “The president is really well loved. People feel great about what he is doing.”
Scaramucci, 53, said his team would work “very, very hard, very studiously” to pass health care reform and other top-shelf agenda items.
Trump is “genuinely a wonderful human being,” he said, and as members of Congress get to know him better “they’re going to let him lead them to the right things for the American people.”
Scaramucci last month joined the US Export-Import Bank, a government agency that distributes export credits.
As a one-time host of “Wall Street Week” on the Fox business news network, he said he had “empathy” for journalists.
Spicer clashed with reporters regularly as press secretary starting immediately after Trump’s January 20 swearing-in, when the White House claimed that record crowds had attended the event on the National Mall in Washington.
Photographic evidence showed that turnout was smaller than other recent presidential inaugurations.
One of his most embarrassing statements came after a chemical weapons attack launched by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Spicer said that even someone as despicable as Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler didn’t sink to using chemical weapons on his own people as Assad had done, ignoring the Nazis’ use of gas to murder Germans in concentration camps. He later apologized, calling his comments “insensitive.”
He was also was mocked mercilessly on late-night comedy show “Saturday Night Live,” where he was portrayed by actress Melissa McCarthy, for his brusqueness during briefings.