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Donald Trump's new White House press team named as Sean Spicer quits

White House press secretary Sean Spicer has abruptly resigned, ending a rocky six-month tenure that made his news briefings defending President Donald Trump must-see TV.

He said Mr Trump's communications team "could benefit from a clean slate" as the White House seeks to steady operations amid the Russia investigations and before a health care showdown.

Mr Spicer quit in protest over the hiring of a new White House communications director, New York financier Anthony Scaramucci, objecting to what Mr Spicer considered his lack of qualifications as well as the direction of the press operation.

Mr Scaramucci, a polished television commentator and Harvard Law graduate, quickly took centre stage at a briefing, parrying questions from reporters and commending Mr Trump in a 37-minute charm offensive.

As his first act on the job, Mr Scaramucci announced that Sarah Huckabee Sanders would be the new press secretary. She had been Mr Spicer's deputy.

The shake-up on the communications team comes as Mr Trump is suffering from dismal approval ratings and struggling to advance his agenda.

The president has been frustrated by all the attention devoted to investigations of allegations of his election campaign's connections to Russia.

Mr Trump, who watches the press briefings closely and believes he is his own best spokesman, in a statement saluted Mr Spicer's "great ratings" on TV and said he was "grateful for Sean's work on behalf of my administration and the American people".

Mr Scaramucci, in an appearance after his appointment was made official, showed the television skills that Mr Trump has long valued.

He praised Mr Trump's political instincts and competitiveness, cracked a few self-deprecating jokes and argued with reporters who categorised the West Wing as dysfunctional, saying "there is a disconnect" between the media and the way the public sees the president.

"The president has really good karma and the world turns back to him," Mr Scaramucci said.

Mr Spicer said during a brief phone conversation with The Associated Press that he felt it would be best for Mr Scaramucci to build his own operation "and chart a new way forward".

He tweeted that it had been an "honour" and "privilege" to serve Mr Trump and that he would remain in his post through August.

The White House has been looking for a new communications director for several weeks, but struggled to attract an experienced Republican hand.

Mr Scaramuuci began seriously talking to the White House about the position this week, and Mr Trump formally offered him the job on Friday morning.

He made clear that he would continue the West Wing's plan to hit back against media reports it does not like - and would do a better job of selling its victories.

"The president is a winner. And we're going to do a lot of winning," said Mr Scaramucci, who blew a kiss to the press corps before departing.

Mr Spicer had long sought the strategic communications job for himself and had been managing that role along with his press secretary duties for nearly two months.

His tenure got off to a rocky start. On Mr Trump's first full day in office, he lambasted journalists over coverage of the crowd size at the inauguration and stormed out of the briefing room without answering questions.

Mr Spicer, who often displayed a fiery demeanour in tense on-camera exchanges with reporters, became widely known, particularly through an indelible impersonation by Melissa McCarthy on NBC's Saturday Night Live.

She portrayed him as a hostile figure who tore through the briefing room on a motorised podium, willing to attack the press.

The resignation comes a day after Mark Corallo, the spokesman for the president's outside legal team, left his post.

AP

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