WASHINGTON — White House press secretary Sean Spicer resigned on Friday morning, telling President Trump he vehemently disagreed with the appointment of the New York financier Anthony Scaramucci as communications director, The New York Times reported.
Trump offered Scaramucci the job at 10 a.m. The president requested that Spicer stay on, but Spicer told the president that he believed the appointment was a major mistake, according to a person with direct knowledge of the exchange, the Times reported.
Spicer hasn’t conducted an on-camera press briefing at the White House since June 29.
Politico reported Scaramucci’s expected appointment has caused great upheaval in the West Wing, with chief of staff Reince Preibus and chief strategist Steve Bannon — along with Spicer — expressing opposition to him.
“This was a murdering of Reince and Bannon. They said Anthony would get this job over their dead bodies,” one top White House official told Politico.
Another White House official said Spicer was gracious while breaking the news of his departure, offered some praise for Scaramucci, while saying he would help with a transition.
Scaramucci will replace Mike Dubke, who resigned from the job in May. He is stepping into the role as the White House is battling multiple Russia-related investigations, including whether Trump campaign officials colluded with the Kremlin, and as the White House tries to revive the collapsed Obamacare repeal effort.
Politico reported Scaramucci, a fixture on the global financial scene, had been blocked for other senior jobs, including director of the office of public liaison, which is in charge of managing the administration’s relationship with big business groups.
Spicer’s daily press briefings had become must-see television until recent weeks when he took on a more behind-the-scenes role. Deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has largely taken over the briefings, turning them into an off-camera event.
Spicer spent several years leading communications at the Republican National Committee before helping Trump’s campaign in the general election. He is close to White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, the former RNC chair, and several of the lower-ranking aides in the White House communications shop.
Priebus told The Associated Press that he supports Scaramucci “100 percent,” despite reportedly trying to prevent the financier from getting multiple administration positions.
“We go back a long, long way and are very good friends,” Priebus said of Scaramucci. “All good here.”
Scaramucci is expected to play a visible role as one of Trump’s defenders on television. But Spicer and other officials questioned his hiring as communications director ahead of the president’s push to overhaul the tax system and other policy issues. One of the officials said Spicer objected to Trump’s vision for the future of the press operation.
Spicer’s resignation set off a chaotic scene in the White House briefing room, as journalists gathered near a doorway seeking more details on his departure. White House officials had yet to announce the timing of the daily briefing — and who would be conducting it.
Spicer’s tenure got off to a rocky start. On Trump’s first full day in office, Spicer lambasted journalists over coverage of the crowd size at the inauguration and stormed out of the briefing room without answering questions.
Spicer, who often displayed a fiery demeanor in tense on-camera exchanges with reporters, became part of culture in the way few people in his job have, particularly through an indelible impersonation by Melissa McCarthy on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live.”
She portrayed Spicer as a hostile figure who tore through the briefing room on a portable podium, willing to attack the press.
Spicer remained loyal to Trump but he frequently battled perceptions that he was not plugged in to what the president was thinking, and had to worry that Trump was watching and critiquing his performance from the Oval Office.
Throughout the start of the administration, there was always the possibility that Trump would undermine something Spicer said by simply sending out a tweet.