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White House press secretary resigned due to Trump campaign’s ties with Russia

22 July, 2017

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WASHINGTON: White House press secretary Sean Spicer and a member of President Donald Trump’s legal team resigned on Friday in a one-two punch to a reeling administration, as pressure mounts from a broadening investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.

Spicer resigned in opposition to Trump’s naming of Anthony Scaramucci, a Wall Street financier and longtime supporter of the billionaire investor-turned-president, as the new White House communications director, a White House official said.

Mark Corallo, who coordinated the Trump legal team’s public response to the crisis over a probe into possible campaign collusion with Moscow, also stepped down, according to an email he sent to this news agency.

Spicer’s press briefings — often combative affairs with White House reporters — became increasingly infrequent in recent months, with deputy spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders stepping in to address journalists, often in off-camera briefings.

Sanders however was due to go in front of the cameras later on Friday. Spicer’s departure dramatically escalates the tensions within the administration over the direction the investigation is taking, and how the White House is responding.

No reason was given for Corallo’s departure, and Spicer so far has remained publicly silent. But the moves come after Trump waded into potentially perilous legal territory by warning investigators not to look into his family finances.

In an expansive interview with The New York Times earlier this week, Trump appeared to make that a red line for special counsel Robert Mueller. Mueller is examining whether Trump or his aides colluded with Russia’s apparent efforts to help tilt the 2016 presidential election in Trump’s favour.

Trump has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, but has struggled to explain why his eldest son and key aides met Russian operatives who promised dirt on Hillary Clinton. With the investigation apparently extending to financial transactions, US media reported that Trump allies were looking into issuing presidential pardons and for ways to discredit Mueller’s investigation.

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