Sean Spicer has insisted that Donald Trump didn’t want him to quit as White House press secretary. Mr Spicer resigned as press secretary on Friday after Anthony Scaramucci, a New York financier with no previous media experience, was made the new White House communications director.
News outlets had reported that Mr Spicer had left his post in protest at the appointment, and had told the President it was a “major mistake”. But in an interview with Fox News he painted a more amicable picture, telling host Sean Hannity that the President had been “very gracious throughout this process”. “He wanted to bring some new folks in to help rev up the communications operation,” he said, adding that he wanted to give new leadership a “clean slate to start from”. “I just think it was in the best interest of our communications department of our press organisation to not have too many cooks in the kitchen,” he said. “I thought it would be a bit confusing having additional people at the top.”
As Mr Spicer’s interview aired, the President tweeted that he was a “wonderful person” who took “tremendous abuse from the fake news media”. Mr Spicer’s departure followed weeks of uncertainty in the White House, where he had been standing as communications director as well as press secretary since Mike Dubke left in May. The outgoing press secretary’s idiosyncratic daily press briefings had become a subject for regular mockery.
One gaffe saw Mr Spicer telling journalists that Adolf Hitler “didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons”, and on another occasions he was accused of hiding in bushes in order to avoid answering questions. In the last month Sarah Huckabee Sanders had almost entirely taken on the role of addressing the press, carrying out daily off-camera briefings while Mr Spicer took a more behind the scenes role.
Ms Huckabee Sanders was announced as the new press secretary after Mr Spicer’s resignation.
In an on-camera White House Briefing on Friday, she read a statement from President Trump in which he said he was “grateful for Sean’s work”. Mr Trump continued to describe Mr Scaramucci as an “important addition” to his team, and went on to take a swipe at the press saying “the good news is that the people get it even if the media doesn’t”. Mr Scaramucci addressed the press to describe Mr Spicer as a “true American patriot”, saying “I hope he goes on to make a tremendous amount of money”.