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Sean Spicer disagrees with Trump, resigns as White House press secretary

Sean Spicer quit over alleged disagreements regarding the appointment of the new White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci.

world Updated: Jul 22, 2017 00:31 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
Sean Spicer,Spicer quits,Spicer quits White House
White House press secretary Sean Spicer has resigned over the hiring of new communications aide. (AP Photo)

Donald Trump’s embattled press secretary Sean Spicer has resigned citing strong disagreement with the US President’s choice of the new communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, a New York financier.

The New York Times, which first reported the resignation, said Spicer put in his papers shortly after Trump offered Scaramucci the position that had fallen vacant in May after the resignation of then incumbent Mike Dubke.

Trump asked Spicer to continue but he decided to resign instead, saying Scaramucci’s appointment was a big mistake, according to The New York Times.

Trump, in a statement read by Sarah Huckabee Sanders – the new press secretary – said that he’s “grateful” for departing press secretary Spicer’s “work on behalf of my administration and the American people”.

“Just look at his great television ratings!” he said.

Spicer, who continued as Trump’s spokesman from the election campaign, had struggled as the White House press secretary from the start, and had relinquished his place behind the podium in recent days to his deputy Sanders, who has now been promoted to his position.

There was speculation he would be moving up in the communications shop as director and leaving the daily briefings, which had come to be marked by frequent testy exchanges with reporters on his watch, to Sanders.

The president, obviously had other plans.

Spicer started in the tenure with a disastrous first briefing at which he harangued reporters for underplaying the turnout at Trump’s inauguration on January 20, and offered factually challenged remarks and observations.

Very soon, his daily briefings, a White House tradition, came to be dominated by angry exchanges with reporters, and marked by insults and put-downs for some of which he was forced to apologise.

And then there were the gaffes, one after the other. In one of them, he greeted India on the 70th anniversary of its Independence Day, in June, two months ahead of the date.

“I want to wish the people of India a happy 70th anniversary on their independence,” he said, before going on to offer a brief preview of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s then upcoming meeting with Trump, their first.

Spicer had been called out again and again for playing fast and loose with facts, starting with his first briefing when he sought to grossly exaggerate the size of the crowd at Trump’s inauguration. “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period!” Spicerhad said. He had gone on to defend the claim by saying, famously, “Sometimes we can disagree with the facts.”

Trump wasn’t much help either, as he kept up an alternative narrative of his presidency though social media posts, often contradicting those he had appointed to speak for him.

And he kept Spicer guessing about what he thought of him. He once said in an interview on Fox, “He’s getting beat up. No, he just gets beat up by these people and again you know they don’t show the 90 questions that they asked and answered properly.”

Spicer’s standing in the White House and outside was also damaged immeasurably by Melissa McCarthy’s caricature of him on Saturday Night Live, the way he dressed, he looked and dealt with reporters.

New communications director a long-time supporter

The man picked by Trump for the post of communications director is Wall Street financier Anthony Scaramucci, a long-time supporter of the president.

Currently at the Export-Import Bank, Scaramucci is expected to start his new job in August. No other changes were immediately expected in the communications operation.

The appointment came as the White House deals with questions around a special counsel probe and several congressional investigations into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election and potential collusion with Trump’s campaign.

An official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Scaramucci was interviewed by Trump on Friday morning and the job had been offered and accepted.

Scaramucci, a Republican fundraiser and founder of Skybridge Capital, was earlier offered the post of US ambassador to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris.

(With inputs from agencies)

First Published: Jul 21, 2017 21:51 IST