President Donald Trump finally pushed his Press Secretary Sean Spicer to the breaking point on Friday after he chose to hire Wall Street personality Anthony Scaramucci as his next communications director.
Spicer, who vehemently opposed the Scaramucci hiring, subsequently announced his resignation—first reported by The New York Times—bringing to an end a tumultuous, often difficult, six-month stint on the job. Two White House officials confirmed the news to The Daily Beast, with one bluntly noting that they were “surprised it took this long.”
Spicer has, for months, been on the White House chopping block, with the president consistently displeased with his now former press secretary’s performance. Spicer’s replacement has not yet been determined, according to a White House source. On Friday afternoon, Spicer told CNN’s Dana Bash, “I wanted to give the president and the new team a clean slate.”
His departure is the most public illustration of a massive splintering that has taken place inside the White House press operation, which has been constantly caught off guard by the unpredictable, often undermining, president it serves. Friday’s drama was no exception. According to White House sources, some members of the communications team were not given any advance warning of Spicer’s resignation before the news broke, and were completely caught off guard by the Friday-morning shakeup.
Spicer was not the only one opposed to Scaramucci’s hiring. His deputy, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, was as well. So, too, was chief of staff Reince Priebus and chief strategist Steve Bannon, who vocally opposed Trump’s decision, two senior Trump administration officials told The Daily Beast.
According to three senior officials with knowledge of the situation, they and other top aides worried that the Scaramucci hiring would perpetuate the notion of “amateur hour” in the West Wing. White House officials who opposed Scaramucci’s planned rise in Trump’s ranks have referred to the incoming new addition as a “joke” and as a Trump-world “hanger-on” who isn’t qualified for the job and is unprepared to handle the near-constant communications crisis dogging President Trump, senior White House aides noted.
But the president is a fan of Scaramucci’s big personality, having appreciated his fervent defense of the administration during numerous cable-news hits. Trump had tried to find Scaramucci other positions inside the administration, but they repeatedly fell through.
The president’s decision has the blessing of top advisers such as Hope Hicks, and family members and White House staff Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner. The move underscores the degree to which Trump remains committed to surrounding himself with flamboyant political outsiders—a key aspect of his political appeal, but one that some of his aides say hampers his legislative agenda and attempts to more deftly navigate Washington’s idiosyncratic culture.
Trump now has precious few D.C. insiders left inside his inner circle. Spicer was part of the team of Republican National Committee staffers that had followed Priebus to the White House post-election. His departure follows the previous resignation of GOP strategist Mike Dubke after just three months atop the White House communications shop. It is a trend of exits that has left aides worried about the absence of operatives with actual political experience.
“As much as the big man hates to hear it, a Beltway mentality would serve him well right now,” a senior White House official told The Daily Beast. Scaramucci “obviously isn’t that.”
Officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not cleared to vent about the Scaramucci. The White House press office did not respond to requests for comment. Scaramucci did not respond to a request for comment on this story.
Spicer did not answer calls seeking comment on Friday. His cell phone rang once, then went to voicemail.