Ex-press secretary defended Trump at all costs

WASHINGTON • Mr Sean Spicer burst onto the public stage six months ago with a rant against reporters, accusing them of lowballing the size of President Donald Trump's inauguration-day crowd.

Following a turbulent half-year run as White House press secretary, Mr Spicer is leaving the building with a final burst of drama after rejecting what amounted to a downsizing of his role.

As Mr Trump's frontman at televised White House news briefings, the 45-year-old achieved a certain fame for defending the President at all costs. He became instantly recognisable around the country and an inspiration for social media memes. His live televised briefings drew big audiences for cable TV.

Mr Spicer was lampooned on NBC's Saturday Night Live, with Melissa McCarthy playing the combative "Spicey" character, chewing on gum and driving a motorised lectern into actors playing reporters who asked hard questions.

Asked what he thought of the show, Mr Spicer told Fox News: "I think that there were parts of it that were funny, but there's a lot of it that was over the line..."

Over time, however, Mr Trump felt he was not being defended strongly enough by his communications team and that there were not enough people advocating for him on TV, said a Republican source.

Eager to make changes in his communications team, the President began courting Mr Anthony Scaramucci, a New York financial whiz who has been an eloquent defender of Mr Trump in TV interviews.

When Mr Trump hired Mr Scaramucci as communications director on Friday and asked Mr Spicer to stay on, the press secretary told the President he was resigning, a source said. Mr Spicer told Fox News that the President had been "very gracious throughout this process".

"I just thought 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.

Mr Trump tweeted late on Friday: "Sean Spicer is a wonderful person who took tremendous abuse from the Fake News Media - but his future is bright!"

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 23, 2017, with the headline 'Ex-press secretary defended Trump at all costs'. Print Edition | Subscribe