White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer has taken a lot of heat for the way he has handled questions about President Donald Trump's tumultuous administration since pretty much the day of his inauguration, but it appears he's now officially opted out of the role: Spicer announced his resignation Friday. The reason, according to CNBC, is said to be that Spicer disagreed with Trump's decision over who to appoint as the new White House communications director. Who is Anthony Scaramucci, the person Spicer didn't want in the role? It sounds like he may not be a popular pick among some members of the Trump administration.
According to CNN, Scaramucci accepted the job offer Friday morning, filling the role that has been vacant since former communications director Mike Dubke resigned in May. The appointment was considered to be somewhat surprising given that Scaramucci, a New York hedge fund manager who a month ago began a role as vice president and chief strategy officer at the Export-Import Bank, has never held a formal political communications role. But while Scaramucci lacks actual experience, he certainly seems to be a close ally of the president: The New York Times described him as "one of the president’s most trusted loyalists and a key defender of Mr. Trump on television."
Spicer certainly does not appear to agree with Trump's assessment of Scaramucci, though. On Friday, The New York Times reported that Spicer told Trump that Scaramucci's appointment "was a major mistake," and though the president is said to have asked Spicer to remain in his role, he ultimately declined. And Spicer may not be alone in his opinion about Scaramucci: according to Politico, White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and chief strategist Steve Bannon are both thought to have opposed the appointment — with Priebus even having been previously involved in blocking Scaramucci from taking a position in the White House Office of Public Liaison.
Though Scaramucci will be assuming a crucial communications role, the bulk of his political experience has actually been related to fundraising. According to CNN, in 2012, he served as the national finance co-chair for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign, and prior to joining the Trump campaign in 2016, he helped the fundraising efforts for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in the Republican primaries. Yet The New York Times notes that Scaramucci has "known [the president] for years," and is close to Trump's children, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump, as well as his son-in-law Jared Kushner.
Familial endorsements aside, it's possible that Scaramucci's recent handling of a CNN story published about him late last month influenced Trump's view of his abilities as a potential communications director. According to Politico, sources have said that the president was impressed that Scaramucci had CNN agree to retract the story, which alleged that he had connections to Russia. Given that speculation over possible collusion between Russia and the Trump administration continues to be strong — and given that an investigation into the matter is ongoing — it isn't entirely surprising to think that the president may have viewed the move as a major win.
Scaramucci's pro-Trump stance during various television interviews may have also worked in his favor. According to The Washington Post, when asked about the appointment Friday, Kellyanne Conway praised Scaramucci for his consistent defence of the president and his agenda, and said,
All I can say is in speaking with the president and others that, you know, we have a great communications team already. Anthony Scaramucci is somebody who has been an incredible asset to President Trump all during the campaign, the transition, and now he is one of the killers on TV who goes out there, thinks the president is being treated very unfairly, and we don’t get any of the economic news out there, even though our press and communications shop tries.
Anthony Scaramucci's appointment — and Sean Spicer's resignation — may have been relatively unexpected, but at the same time, it's really only the latest in a number of major shake-ups in the Trump administration. Without much to draw upon in terms of Scaramucci's background, it's still to be seen exactly how he will approach his new role as communications director, but for now at least, it seems safe to assume that not everyone is looking forward to having him in charge.