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WHITE HOUSE — White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer has resigned.
Sources quoted in media reports say his decision to step down is linked to the appointment of new White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci. They say President Trump’s spokesman offered his resignation shortly after Scaramucci, a New York financier, was named.
At a press conference Friday afternoon, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders read a statement on behalf of Trump in which the president thanked Spicer for his service.
“I am grateful for Sean’s work on behalf of my administration and the American people. I wish him continued success as he moves on to pursue new opportunities — just look at his great television ratings,” she said on behalf of Trump.
Spicer’s press briefings had drawn large audiences on television and social media. Recently, Sanders has taken over most briefings, and held them off camera.
In introducing Scaramucci, Sanders continued quoting Trump as saying he has “great respect for Scaramucci” and looks forward to working with him.
“He’s been a great supporter and will now help implement key aspects of our agenda while leading the communications team,” she said. “We have accomplished so much and we are getting credit for so little. The good news is, the people get it even if the media doesn’t.”
Who is Scaramucci?
Scaramucci, a fierce defender of Trump on cable talk shows, has long been considered a contender for the White House staff. In January, he sold his hedge fund, SkyBridge Capital, with the expectation of being named assistant to the president and director of the White House Office of Public Liaison and Intergovernmental Affairs.
But the White House ethics committee found that SkyBridge was sold to a Chinese conglomerate with ties to the government, so the post went instead to another contender, Ideagen founder and former CEO George Sifakis. Scaramucci last month was named senior vice president and chief strategy officer at the U.S. Export-Import Bank.
Scaramucci, a registered Republican, has backed political figures in one way or another for nearly a decade. In 2008, he was a fundraiser for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. In 2012, he served as National Finance Co-Chair for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Scaramucci first backed Republican Scott Walker and later Republican Jeb Bush. After Walker and Bush both dropped out of the race, he joined the Trump Finance Committee. He also served on Trump’s transition team.
Educated at Tufts University and Harvard Law School, the 53-year-old Scaramucci has said he comes from a middle-class background.
He told Yahoo Finance in May that he is well-suited for a White House position. “I think I’m a reasonably good communicator,” he said. “I think I understand the policies reasonably well. I’m a trained economist, entrepreneur. … I’m not bragging. I just think I have an interesting enough skill set.” Regarding his background, he said, “I came from a middle-class family, so I have identification for the struggle, and I think there’s a number of ways I could serve.”
Scaramucci has television experience, both as a defender of peers and politicians under fire, and as host of the financial television show Wall Street Week, which built up its reputation at public broadcaster PBS before the name was sold to SkyBridge in 2014.
Scaramucci’s White House appointment was reportedly not supported by some members of Trump’s staff, including spokesman Spicer, who resigned Friday, and chief of staff Reince Priebus, who has had differences with Scaramucci in the past. Priebus, however, told the Associated Press on Friday that he supports Scaramucci “100 percent.” He added, “It’s all good here.”
The New York Times reports that the president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, son-in-law Jared Kushner, and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross supported the appointment.
Friday, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway told Fox News that Scaramucci is “somebody who has been an incredible asset to President Trump all during the campaign [and the] transition.” She added, “Anthony is someone who is a friend to the administration.”
VOA’s Marissa Melton contributed to this report.