White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer Resigns, Citing Disagreement Over Hire
No surprise here.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer resigned on Friday after President Donald Trump offered the position of White House communications director to Trump fundraiser Anthony Scaramucci, according to the New York Times.
Spicer was also serving as the communication director in addition to his duties as press secretary.
Spicer’s tenuous status and his anticipated fall from grace has long been a topic of speculation in Washington. Trump often contradicted Spicer in his tweets and public comments, and White House aides leaked word of the president’s dissatisfaction with Spicer’s performance. Rumors swirled from early in Spicer’s tenure that Trump was unhappy with Spicer, especially after comedian Melissa McCarthy’s devastating caricature of him on Saturday Night Live as a petty, angry spokesman delivering fabricated facts.
Trump reportedly did not like the idea of a female comedian portraying Spicer, and that it made one of his staff look “weak.”
In June, deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders replaced Spicer in daily White House press briefings, fueling speculation that his firing was imminent.
Surely one of Spicer’s most memorable lines as press secretary came on May 31. When asked what “covfefe” meant — the apparent typo that Trump tweeted out late one evening that soon became an immensely popular meme — Spicer did not acknowledge any mistake on the part of the president, instead replying, “The president and a small group of people know exactly what he meant.”
Spicer posted on Twitter that he would stay on until the end of August, saying it had been a “honor & privilege” to work for the president:
Scaramucci, like Trump, hails from New York; and also like Trump, he brings little direct experience to his new position. Scaramucci made a name for himself as a Wall Street hedge fund manager and has made regular TV appearances himself but has not worked in press relations. A fundraiser for Trump during the campaign, Scaramucci then served as the White House liaison to the business community.
At an on-camera White House press briefing on July 21, his first public appearance since being tapped for communications director, Scaramucci channeled the id of the Trump administration, at one point saying, “The president’s a winner, and we’re going to do a lot of winning” and mentioning that he had been “very very loyal” to Trump.
Scaramucci dodged tough questions with the deftness of a slick financier. Responding to one question about the administration’s use of the term “fake news” and its overall treatment of the media, Scaramucci said that there is “a little bit of media bias out there,” expressing hope that the administration can “de-escalate that and turn that around.”
His smooth demeanor contrasted with Spicer’s tendency to get flustered when reporters pressed him on thorny issues.
Scaramucci also offered parting words for his predecessor.
“I love the guy, and I wish him well, and I hope he goes on to make a tremendous amount of money.”
Below, as a final parting ode to the outgoing press secretary, is McCarthy’s inaugural skit featuring herself as a hostile, gum-chewing, podium-wielding Spicer:
This piece has been updated to include comments from the July 21 press briefing.
Alex Wong/Getty Images
Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian is a journalist covering China from Washington. She was previously an assistant editor and contributing reporter at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @BethanyAllenEbr