Sanders stepping down as White House press secretary

ON THE WAY OUT: Outgoing White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders hugs President Donald Trump during a second chance hiring and criminal justice reform event in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., on June 13. Oliver Contreras/SIPA USA/Tribune News Service

WASHINGTON – White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, one of the most visible faces of the Trump administration, plans to leave her job at the end of the month, Trump announced Thursday in a Twitter message in which he also urged her to run for governor of Arkansas.

Sanders, 36, has been with Trump since the campaign, which she joined after managing the unsuccessful run for the nomination by her father, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. She was initially hired as principal deputy press secretary in the White House and elevated to the top job in July 2017, after her predecessor, Sean Spicer, left.

Sanders came under frequent attack for defending Trump's repeated falsehoods and for misleading the press.

Her credibility took a serious blow after she admitted to special counsel Robert Mueller's office that her public assertions that many FBI workers had expressed support for Trump's firing of former FBI Director James Comey were fabricated.

When Mueller's report on his investigation became public, she called her remarks a "slip of the tongue."

She has not held a formal press briefing in 94 days, a modern record. Her job has also been made difficult by Trump's propensity for making his own announcements, including her departure.

"After 3-1/2 years, our wonderful Sarah Huckabee Sanders will be leaving the White House at the end of the month and going home to the Great State of Arkansas," Trump tweeted Thursday. "She is a very special person with extraordinary talents, who has done an incredible job! I hope she decides to run for Governor of Arkansas – she would be fantastic. Sarah, thank you for a job well done!"

Trump did not name a successor for Sanders, underscoring the sense of turmoil in the press office that has been beset by turnover.

The administration also has no official communications director. Bill Shine, the sixth person to hold that title, resigned in March. Anthony Scaramucci famously led the communications staff for 11 days in 2017.

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