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, according to reports.
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 in recent weeks he withdrew from the camera’s glare.
He told US media that the White House “could benefit from a clean slate”.
Later, appearing on Fox News, Mr Spicer said that with Mr Scaramucci’s appointment there was a risk of “too many cooks in the kitchen” in the White House media operation, which was why he was stepping down.
The 45 year old said he had told Mr Trump he “would stay on for a few weeks to achieve a smooth transition”, and was looking forward to spending more time with his family.
He defended the president’s agenda and hit out at what he termed “media bias”, saying: “I was increasingly disappointed about the way the media here do their job, or don’t do their job.”
The shake-up at the White House comes amid several investigations 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 reported that Mr Spicer had “vehemently” disagreed with the appointment of Mr Scaramucci, which he believed to be a “major mistake”.
Announcing that he would step down next month, Mr Spicer tweeted that it had been “an honor & a privilege to serve” the president.
The BBC’s White House reporter Tara McKelvey says journalists besieged the 18-acre complex so they could film Mr Spicer leaving.
In an assured debut, he attended Friday afternoon’s 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,” Mr Scaramucci said, adding: “He is genuinely a wonderful human being.”
He also said: “The president has really good karma.”
Mr Scaramucci, who has no previous experience in communications roles, paid tribute to Mr Spicer as “a true American patriot” and “incredibly gracious”.
“I hope he goes on to make a tremendous amount of money,” he said.
Mr Scaramucci also apologised and said he had been “unexperienced” as he explained his previous criticism of the president.
In an August 2015 interview with Fox Business, he dismissed Mr Trump as a “hack” and “an inherited money dude” with “a big mouth”.
Mr Scaramucci is currently senior vice-president of the Export-Import Bank, a US government agency which guarantees loans for foreign buyers of American exports.
A former member of the Trump transition team, he mistakenly suggested to the BBC in January that Elton John would play at the new president’s inauguration.
The singer promptly denied it. (Courtesy BBC)