Sean Spicer had not fully moved into his West Wing office in January when he interrupted an informal chat with reporters to show off a prized new possession - the ceremonial White House press secretary flak jacket passed down by his predecessors.
It was meant to symbolize the incoming blasts from reporters. But for Spicer, who announced his resignation Friday after just six tumultuous months on the job, it was the crossfire from inside the West Wing that brought him down.
To a degree unseen before at the White House lectern, Spicer, 45, became a household name, a constant target for critics and late night comics. He was lampooned on television and social media as the chief spokesman for a White House that is frequently off message and prone to falsehoods. He gained a reputation as a pugnacious, often tongue-tied defender of a boss in President Donald Trump who never really wanted him in the job and always thought he could do better at defending himself.
On Friday, as news broke that Trump had hired Anthony Scaramucci, a brash New York financier, as his new communications director over Spicer's personal objections, the situation was no longer sustainable. Trump, who undercut Spicer time and again and dragged him through a series of public humiliations, had made clear he no longer had much use for him.
"Better to give them an opportunity to have a clean slate and evaluate what we've done - to figure out what's working and what needs to be improved upon," Spicer said in a brief telephone interview with The Washington Post. Ever the loyal staffer, Spicer said he would remain at the White House through August to help smooth the transition for Scaramucci and Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Spicer's deputy who was promptly named to replace him.
"It's been an unbelievable honor and privilege," Spicer said. "This is something you dream of. I can't thank the president enough."
- Input: IANS