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Sarah Huckabee Sanders is leaving the White House at the end of the month, Trump says

Key Points
  • White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is leaving the administration at the end of the month.
  • President Donald Trump says she is returning to her home state of Arkansas and does not immediately name a replacement.
  • Sanders was press secretary since July 2017 and had an adversarial relationship with the media.
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Sarah Huckabee Sanders to step down as White House press secretary

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will leave the job at the end of the month, President Donald Trump said Thursday.

In a pair of tweets, the president said Sanders will return to her home state of Arkansas — and urged her to run for governor. He thanked her for what he called a "job well done" in the White House.

Trump did not immediately announce who would succeed her. Sanders later told reporters that she has not talked to the president about potential successors.

Speaking at a White House event on hiring former inmates released under legislation passed last year, Sanders called the job the "honor" and "opportunity of a lifetime." She added that she "loved every minute, even the hard minutes." Sanders stressed that she will "continue to be one of the most outspoken and loyal supporters of the president and his agenda."

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders speaks to the media during a briefing in the Brady Briefing Room at the White House on October 29, 2018 in Washington, DC.
Mark Wilson | Getty Images

In a separate gaggle with reporters, Sanders said she didn't know if she would run for Arkansas governor.

"I don't know," she said. "I learned a long time ago never to rule anything out."

She also declined to answer questions about whether she's had conversations about a potential campaign.

Sanders was on the 2016 Trump campaign's communications team. She was a deputy press secretary when Trump took office before she succeeded Sean Spicer as press secretary in July 2017.

Sanders had an often adversarial relationship with the media.

The press secretary faced criticism for giving answers from the White House podium that were misleading or contradicted what the president's public comments. In one notable episode, she claimed after former FBI Director James Comey's firing that "countless" agents within the bureau had lost confidence in him. Special counsel Robert Mueller's report on his Russia investigation released in May contradicted her characterization.

Sanders told reporters Thursday that she didn't regret not holding more press briefings.

This year, the press secretary largely disappeared from the job's traditional role as the public face of the administration. She last held a press briefing on March 11, 94 days ago.

Sanders' departure continues a tumultuous run for a White House communications shop that has a difficult task in controlling the message of a freewheeling president. The White House currently has no communications director. Five people have held the job in the roughly 2½ years of Trump's presidency — most recently former Fox News executive Bill Shine.

Sanders did not immediately return CNBC's request to comment.

— CNBC's Kevin Breuninger and Eamon Javers contributed to this report