The rumor mill in Washington is working overtime on how long White House press secretary Sean Spicer will keep his job as the top spokesman of President Trump’s administration.
The White House has been quick to push back against speculation that Spicer may be replaced, but it continues to battle reports that the president is considering a major staff shakeup and speculation that Trump is dissatisfied with Spicer's performance.
The president has shown he is not hesitant to fire his staff unexpectedly. Trump last week sent shockwaves through Washington when he fired FBI Director James Comey.
The Spicer rumors may have reached their pinnacle by appearing in a skit Saturday night on “Saturday Night Live.”
During the skit, a reporter asked Melissa McCarthy as Spicer: "If he's your friend, why is everyone saying he's about to fire you and replace you with Sarah [Huckabee Sanders]?"
"I need to find Trump! I promise I'll talk better,” McCarthy’s Spicer later declares.
Amid this swirl of speculation, Spicer returned to the podium on Friday only to face speculation from many on Twitter about his “mood.”
Multiple reports this week claimed Trump is considering a big staff change.
Six West Wing officials told The New York Times this week that the president is considering his most far-reaching staff change yet after being dissatisfied with several top aides, specifically naming Spicer as one of them.
The president has reportedly talked about the possibility of Fox News host Kimberly Guilfoyle to serve in the role.
Other rumors have speculated Spicer could be replaced with Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who filled in for Spicer over the past week during a major controversy for the administration.
Spicer, who was fulfilling Navy Reserve duty, was missing from one of the most volatile news cycles of the president's tenure so far after Trump fired Comey.
Spicer was reportedly kept in the dark ahead of Trump’s decision out of fear his communications staff would leak the news, according to a New York Times report.
Spicer and the rest of the White House communications team were reportedly told about the decision at the last possible moment.
Another report Sunday in Axios seemed to confirm Trump is weighing a shakeup in his administration.
Trump is reportedly considering a "huge reboot" that could include Spicer, chief of staff Reince Priebus and chief strategist Stephen Bannon, Axios reported.
The move reportedly comes at the urging of longtime friends and outside advisers, according to the report.
"He's frustrated, and angry at everyone," according to an unidentified confidant quoted. "The advice he's getting is to go big — that he has nothing to lose.”
The White House last week tried to shut down the rumors that Spicer’s job is on the chopping block.
“Every time people write this story they’re always wrong and people writing today are wrong,” an unidentified official told BuzzFeed News last week.
“Oh my god, for the billionth time no,” another Trump administration official said when asked about Spicer’s rumored ouster, according to the report.
During an interview last week on Fox News, Trump called Spicer a "wonderful human being" and a "nice man." He said while Spicer is doing a good job, he "gets beat up" in his daily White House press briefings.
"He’s getting beat up. No, he just gets beat up by these people and again you know they don’t show the 90 questions that they asked and answered properly," he said.
"I’m saying if they’re off just a little bit, just a little bit, it’s the big story."
Those close to Sanders insist that she is not gunning for the top press secretary position.
"She likes what she’s doing. She really, really likes Sean and respects him a lot and really enjoys working with him and has no desire to take the job that he has,” her father, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R), told Fox News last week.
“It’s frustrating to her because she’s loyal to the president, and she’s loyal to Sean. She’s going to be grateful for the opportunity she has, and she has no intention of being anything but the person who is the deputy press secretary,” he said.
Huckabee also joked that after this past week, his daughter might think it's "easier to be in the Navy at war than to go in that briefing room."
"She may enlist just to get an easier job, enlist for frontline combat," he joked.
Spicer has faced several controversies since assuming his position, and some called for him to be fired after his comments earlier this year comparing Syrian President Bashar Assad to Adolf Hitler, saying Hitler did not use chemical weapons on his own people during World War II. Critics said the comments were anti-Semitic, given that Hitler gassed to death millions of German Jews and others during the Holocaust.
Spicer also appeared to struggle with the messaging around Trump’s decision to fire Comey.
Spicer in a statement on Tuesday claimed the president "acted based on the clear recommendations of both Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump criticizes Justice for restoring McCabe's benefits McCabe wins back full FBI pension after being fired under Trump Overnight Hillicon Valley — Apple issues security update against spyware vulnerability MORE" in firing Comey.
But Trump appeared to challenge the account Thursday during an interview with NBC's Lester Holt, when he rejected the notion that he had based his decision on Rosenstein's and Sessions's recommendations.
"I was going to fire regardless of the recommendation,” Trump said. “Regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey.”
In order to avoid questions about the timeline of Trump’s decision, The Washington Post reported that at one point, Spicer spent several minutes "hidden in the darkness and among bushes" outside the White House while Sanders and adviser Kellyanne Conway made TV appearances.