White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer announced his resignation on Friday morning, after telling President Donald Trump that he strongly disagreed with the selection of Anthony Scaramucci as White House communications director, The New York Times reported.
Trump offered Scaramucci the top communications post on Friday morning and, according to the Times’ sources, Spicer told the president that he believed the decision was a significant misstep.
Amid the dysfunction appearing to hang over the White House like a dark cloud, Spicer’s decision could be linked to the appointment New York financier Anthony Scaramucci as communications director. Sources with knowledge of Spicer’s decision spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the personnel matter publicly.
Scaramucci, an investment-firm founder, Trump surrogate and donor took on the role of senior vice president and chief strategy officer of the Export-Import Bank last month. Throughout Trump’s campaign and since his inauguration, Scaramucci has played a visible role as one of Trump’s staunches defenders on various media networks. As Communications Director, he is expected to continue to play a visible role to defend the office of the presidency.
According to unnamed sources, Spicer and other officials questioned Scaramucci’s hiring as Communications Director, specifically when confronted with Trump’s push to overhaul the tax system and other policy issues. Spicer objected to Trump’s vision for the future of the media operation according to one of the White House officials,
Scaramucci was initially denied the role of director of the White House office of public liaison when implicated in unethical behavior. Questions arose over ethics conflicts stemming from the sale of Scaramucci’s firm, SkyBridge Capital, to a division of HNA Group, a Chinese company with ties to the Communist Party, according to The New York Times.
White House chief of staff Reince Priebus reportedly said Scaramucci does not possess the necessary political experience and skillset to lead the communications team. Despite his concerns about Scaramucci’s level of experience, he told reporters Friday that he supported Scaramucci “100%.”
Spicer’s resignation comes two months after Trump’s former communications director, Mike Dubke, resigned after just three months on the job. Spicer took on some of Dubke’s responsibilities after his resignation. Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Sanders assumed Spicer’s press briefing duties to ease some of the responsibilities that Spicer was juggling. Spicer would have reported to Scaramucci, had he stayed on.
Spicer previously served as the spokesperson for the Republican National Committee (RNC) and has been described by many within the political arena as a significant fixture of the Washington political establishment.
Spicer parodies on “Saturday Night Live” were widely criticized by the media and Democrats for his missteps in reporting and numerous inaccurate statements he’s made at the podium during his White House briefings.
In April, Spicer made headlines when he falsely claimed that Adolf Hitler, unlike Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, “did not use chemical weapons during World War II.”
When asked during a White House press briefing whether Spicer thought there was any reason to think Russia would pull back its support of Syria, its decades-long ally, Spicer seemed to muddle some facts regarding World War II history.
“We didn’t use chemical weapons in World War II,” he said. “You had someone as despicable as Hitler didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons. If you’re Russia, you have to ask yourself if this is a country and regime that you want to align yourself with.”
The Holocaust, also referred to as the Shoah, was a genocide in which some six million European Jews were exterminated by Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany, and the World War II collaborators with the Nazis.
Spicer’s statement was immediately rebuffed by reporters, in the room and on social media online, where his comments went viral. Some Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, called on Spicer to resign.
He later apologized for his comment. “I made a mistake; there’s no other way to say it,” he said the following day.
Spicer began a tumultuous 182-day-long tenure in the White House amid the smoke and mirrors of “alternative facts’ and half-truths when he attacked reporters in at his first White House press briefing—falsely claiming that the crowd size at Trump’s inauguration was the largest in American history.
“This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, and both in-person and around the globe,” he said, despite photos and other factual evidence showing a much smaller audience than the large crowd former President Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration.