Outgoing press Secretary Sean Spicer says that he chose to resign from his position to give incoming commutations director Anthony Scaramucci a fresh start.
Spicer says during a brief phone conversation with The Associated Press following his announced departure that, “we’re at the point where” the president “could benefit from a clean slate.”
He says he felt it would be best for Scaramucci to be able to build his own operation “and chart a new way forward.”
Spicer is also complimenting Scaramucci, a New York financier and frequent defender of the president who was a staple at Trump Tower during the president’s transition.
Spicer says of Scaramucci’s hiring: “It’ll be great, he’s a tough guy.”
He said it’s been “an honor” and “privilege” to serve President Donald Trump and the country.
Spicer resigned Friday in protest over the hiring of a new White House communications director.
He says in a tweet that he will continue his service through August.
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.