WASHINGTON — Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, resigned on Friday after denouncing chaos in the West Wing and telling President Trump he vehemently disagreed with the appointment of the New York financier Anthony Scaramucci as communications director.
After offering Mr. Scaramucci the communications job Friday morning, Mr. Trump asked Mr. Spicer to stay on as press secretary. But Mr. Spicer told Mr. Trump that he believed the appointment of Mr. Scaramucci was a major mistake and said he was resigning, according to a person with direct knowledge of the exchange.
In one of his first official acts, Mr. Scaramucci, who founded the global investment firm SkyBridge Capital and is a Fox News contributor, joined Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Mr. Spicer’s chief deputy, in the White House briefing room and announced that she would succeed Mr. Spicer as press secretary.
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He said he had great respect for Mr. Spicer, adding, “I hope he goes on to make a tremendous amount of money.” But he acknowledged the awkwardness of Mr. Spicer’s resignation. “This is obviously a difficult situation to be in,” Mr. Scaramucci said.
Ms. Sanders said Mr. Trump was grateful for Mr. Spicer’s service and that the president believes Mr. Spicer will succeed going forward. “Just look at his great television ratings,” Mr. Trump said in a statement read by Ms. Sanders.
Mr. Spicer’s 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 turbulent tenure as the president’s top spokesman was marked by a combative style with the news media that spawned a caricature of him on “Saturday Night Live.” He had hoped to last a year. He lasted six months and a day.
The resignation is a serious blow to the embattled 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 described his relationship with Mr. Priebus as a brotherly one where they “rough each other up.” He called Mr. Priebus a “good friend.”
Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has grown critical of both Mr. Spicer and Mr. Priebus, whom he regards as party establishment figures who operate out of self-interest.
Mr. Kushner also supported Mr. Trump’s decision to supplant Marc Kasowitz as his lead attorney on matters pertaining to Russia, according to people familiar with the situation.
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. Mr. Priebus denied that there is friction with Mr. Scaramucci.
For his part, Mr. Spicer said it had been an “honor” and “privilege” to serve Mr. Trump.
Senior officials, including Ms. Sanders, Mr. Spicer’s top deputy, were said to be stunned by the sudden shuffle.
Mr. Spicer has agreed to stay on for two weeks to a month, and Mr. Trump has told his advisers he is open to rotating new people into the briefing room, including one of the president’s personal favorites, Sebastian Gorka, a blustery foreign policy official who has been accused of having ties to far-right groups in Europe.
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.
His appointment Friday came two months after the previous communications director, Mike Dubke, stepped down. Mr. Trump was frustrated with Mr. Priebus over the slow pace of finding a replacement, according to a half-dozen people familiar with the situation.
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 Mr. Kushner and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, the officials said.
Ms. Sanders will inherit one of the toughest public relations jobs in modern political history. The job of press secretary, once regarded as among the most coveted slots in Washington, a steppingstone to fame and a big post-government payday, has lost much of its allure under a president who tweets his opinions and considers himself to be his best spokesman.
Mr. Spicer, according to several people close to him, was tired of being blindsided by Mr. Trump, most recently this week when the president gave a lengthy interview to The New York Times in which he questioned his appointment of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. He was also weary of the daily dressings-down and instituted the highly contentious practice of holding off-air briefings, less so to snub reporters than to avoid Mr. Trump’s critiques of his performance, according to one of Mr. Spicer’s friends.
Shortly after Mr. Spicer’s resignation became public, the White House press office announced Ms. Sanders would hold the first on-air briefing since June 29.
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