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Sean Spicer resigns as Donald Trump's press secretary

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer has resigned. Sarah Huckabee Sanders has been named his replacement. The announcement comes after President Donald Trump picked Anthony Scaramucci as his communications director.

Spicer, who  has served as the White House Press Secretary since the beginning of the Trump administration, resigned from his post on Friday.

According to officials quoted by the New York Times, Spicer had "vehemently disagreed" with the president over the hiring of Wall Street financier Scaramucci as new communications director.

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Sarah Sanders: The White House's new press secretary

Taking the podium for the first time, Scaramucci told reporters that Spicer would be replaced by White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

"We're at the point where" the president "could benefit from a clean slate," Spicer told the Associated Press following the announcement of his departure.

He added that he felt it would be best for Scaramucci to be able to build his own operation "and chart a new way forward."

Spicer tweeted that it had been "an honor and a privilege to serve," and that he would continue in the role through August.

President Donald Trump said in a statement ready by Sanders that he was "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!"

A bridge too far?

According to the NBC news network, Trump's chief of staff Reince Priebus and the president's top adviser Steve Bannon had resisted Scaramucci's appointment. NBC said the two men were kept out of the loop on the decision, but Priebus told the Associated Press that he and Scaramucci are "very good friends" and that he supports the appointment "100 percent." 

Read more - Stephen Bannon: The White House's 'Darth Vader'

DW's Washington correspondent Maya Shwayder said Trump's decision to hire Scaramucci appeared to have been the breaking point for Spicer.

Anthony Scaramucci

Anthony Scaramucci addresses the press

"As speculation has been swirling for months now that Spicer was either going to step down or be fired, this seems to have been a bridge too far for him," said Shwayder.

Spicer had led communications at the Republican National Committee (RNC) before helping Trump's campaign in the US presidential election. He is said to be close to Priebus, who is former chair of the RNC. 

Once mooted for business post

The communications post has been empty since the previous communications director Mike Dubke resigned in May.

Financier Scaramucci had once expected to become head of the White House office that coordinates outreach to business groups and other lobbyists. That plan was killed after questions arose over the sale of Scaramucci's hedge fund.

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Spicer's often combative daily press briefings had become popular viewing until recent weeks, when he took on a less prominent role. Spicer's deputy and replacement, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, had largely taken over with many of the briefings taking place off-camera. 

History of gaffes

During his time as press secretary, Spicer made a number of gaffes that saw the media spotlight turned on him, rather than the policies of the Trump administration.

Melissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer

Melissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer on 'Saturday Night Live'

In his debut appearance in the press briefing room, he attacked journalists for reporting what he called inaccurate crowd numbers at Trump's inauguration. "This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe," he said, drawing scorn from the media.

Spicer's performance before the press corps was memorably parodied by actress Melissa McCarthy on "Saturday Night Live," and he soon became one of the most recognizable figures in Trump's team.  

In April, Spicer had to apologize for making an "inappropriate and insensitive" statement in which he favorably compared Adolf Hitler to Syrian President Bashar Assad. Spicer suggested that Hitler "didn't even sink to using chemical weapons."

rc,nm/rt (AP, Reuters)

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