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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 20 June 2018

Variety is the Spicer life: Trump ditches press spokesman 

Financier Anthony Scaramucci is now President Trump's lead communications official, replacing the pugnacious Sean Spicer

Sean Spicer has stepped down (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)
Sean Spicer has stepped down (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Sean Spicer, the butt of endless jokes in his role as the pugnacious press spokesman of US president Donald Trump, is no more. The 45-year-old abruptly resigned on Friday, ending a period of a little over six months in which he became the public face of the administration.

He has been replaced by Wall Street financier Anthony Scaramucci as the president’s top communications official. Scaramucci told reporters, “I love the president. ... It's an honor to be here.”

Asked how he was going to right the White House ship, Scaramucci said there was nothing to fix. “The ship is going in the right direction. I like the team. Let me rephrase that: I love the team,” he said.

Sarah Sanders was named as the new press secretary by her new boss, Anthony Scaramucci, at a White House briefing with reporters.A Republican close to the White House told Reuters that Trump settled on Scaramucci for the job on Thursday and met with him on Friday morning to formally offer it to him.

After news of Scaramucci’s hiring leaked, the official said, Spicer met with Trump in the Oval Office and basically “gave an ultimatum” that it was “him or me.” When Trump would not budge, Spicer resigned, the official said.

Scaramucci said he will attempt to ensure he has no conflicts of interests stemming from his wide-ranging business activities. He was formerly a hedge fund manager and Goldman Sachs banker. He said he has worked with the US Office of Government ethics “to take care of all this.”

Spicer told Fox News host Sean Hannity on Friday night that "I just thought it was in the best interest of our communications department, of our press organization to not have too many cooks in the kitchen."

He said the president didn't want him to leave but after "some back and forth" the president "understood that the offer that I was making was something that was in the best interest of the administration." Spicer said Trump had "been very gracious throughout this process."

As the Trump White House continues to endure turbulence on many fronts, from allegations of collusion with Russian nationals to the ongoing struggle to get their healthcare reforms through the Senate, Spicer’s departure was no great surprise.

He had committed the ‘ultimate sin’ of the communications specialist in having become the story rather than the channel for the administration. A veteran Washington staffer, Mr Spicer was parodied memorably by actress Melissa McCarthy on the Saturday Night Live TV comedy show for his combative encounters with the White House press corps.

President Trump said he was grateful for Spicer's work in a statement, delivered at the briefing by Sanders.