White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer has quit, reportedly in protest at an organisational shake-up.
Mr Spicer stepped down because he was unhappy with President Donald Trump’s appointment of a new communications director, reports the New York Times.
Combative Wall Street financier Anthony Scaramucci has been picked for the role that Mr Spicer partially filled.
Mr Spicer’s press briefings were a cable news hit, but he withdrew from camera in recent weeks.
The shake-up comes as the White House faces inquiries into alleged Russian meddling in last year’s US presidential election and whether Mr Trump’s campaign team colluded with Moscow.
The New York Times reports that 45-year-old Mr Spicer “vehemently” disagreed with the appointment of Mr Scaramucci, which he believed to be a “major mistake”.
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Spicer’s low points
- inflating crowd sizes at Trump inauguration at first briefing
- his appearance, particularly his suits, reportedly criticised by Trump
- saying Hitler never used chemical weapons and referring to Holocaust “centres”
- butt of text message joke by adviser Steve Bannon about his weight
- defending Trump “covfefe” tweet by saying it had hidden meaning
- frozen out of meeting with the Pope in Rome, despite being devout Catholic
- not invited to Paris for Trump visit
The search for a new appointment began after Mike Dubke resigned from the communications director job in May.
Mr Spicer has been serving as both press secretary and communications director since Mr Dubke’s exit.
“It’s been an honor & a privilege to serve @POTUS @realDonaldTrump & this amazing country,” Mr Spicer tweeted.
“I will continue my service through August”.
The BBC’s White House reporter Tara McKelvey says journalists have besieged the sprawling 18-acre complex so they can film Mr Spicer leaving the executive mansion.
Members of the media were shouting and pushing as they crowded round a door leading to the lower press office, seeking answers for the press secretary’s exit.
The reporters quietened down somewhat when they were assured that the deputy press secretary would hold a briefing on Friday afternoon.
Mr Scaramucci himself attended the news conference to announce that Sarah Huckabee Sanders, formerly Mr Spicer’s deputy, would step into his shoes.
“I love the president and it’s an honour to be here,” he said.
Ms Huckabee Sanders read a statement from President Trump, saying: “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 as his great television ratings.”
On day one in January, Mr Spicer set the tone of his relationship with the press by bursting into the briefing room to berate journalists for their reporting of crowd numbers at President Trump’s inauguration.
His proclivity for gaffes and garbling of his words, as well as making debatable assertions, soon saw Mr Spicer’s name trending on Twitter.
Bigger tremors to come? Analysis by Anthony Zurcher, BBC News
Life on a White House staff is intense and exhausting.
This administration is under particular pressure, given the ongoing Russia investigation, recent legislative setbacks and a president who can be, shall we say, occasionally off-message. Now cracks in the structure are beginning to show.
Sean Spicer’s departure, reportedly because he doesn’t want to work for newly named communication director Anthony Scaramucci, represents the most significant shakeup within the administration’s senior team to date. It could also be a sign of bigger tremors to come.
Mr Spicer was closely allied with White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, who was his boss last year in the Republican National Committee.
The Trump team has been rife with personal feuds, as various factions vie for a mercurial president’s ear. Leaks abound.
The prestige and power of advisers and aides wax and wane. Media reports abound of a White House under siege.
And just a reminder – the Trump presidency is only six months old.
But he could also be funny and charming and was liked by many members of the White House press corps.
Mr Spicer was mercilessly lampooned on the topical comedy show Saturday Night Live, where Melissa McCarthy played him as a gum-chewing, loud-mouthed thug who brandished his lectern at reporters.
Mr Trump noted approvingly in April that Mr Spicer “gets great ratings”. A month later, the president said: “He’s doing a good job but he gets beat up.”
Mr Spicer became something of a punchline when he reportedly sought refuge by a hedgerow on the White House grounds to evade reporters on the night Mr Trump fired the FBI director in May.
His last on-camera briefing was on 20 June.
The last on-camera briefing before Friday’s from the White House was hosted by Ms Huckabee Sanders on 29 June.
Members of the media have accused the Trump administration of attempting to kill off the daily news conferences to avoid scrutiny.
Mr Scaramucci, who has no previous experience in communications roles, is currently senior vice-president of the Export-Import Bank, a US government agency which guarantees loans for foreign buyers of American exports.
He is a trusted loyalist who has frequently appeared on television to defend Mr Trump. But he has not always been a supporter.
In August 2015, he attacked Mr Trump shortly after the Republican candidate launched his White House bid.
Mr Scaramucci told Fox Business that Mr Trump was a “hack” with “a big mouth”, whose criticism of hedge funds was “anti-American”, adding: “I don’t like the way he talks about women.”
“You’re an inherited money dude from Queen’s County,” he said. “Bring it, Donald.”