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Trump's media guru quits amid rumours of White House shake-up

Communications director Mike Dubke resigned from Trump's administration after three crisis-filled months
White House communications director Mike Dubke did not give a reason for leaving (screengrab)

Donald Trump's communications director has quit after three months in the job, in the first move of what could be a long-expected shake-up of media staff by the US president.

Mike Dubke said it had been a "great honour to serve President Trump and this administration", but gave no reasons for his departure. 

His resignation could herald a wider shake-up in Trump's media team. The Reuters news agency reported Axios News as saying the White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, would present fewer on-camera briefings, and that Trump would take more questions from the media directly. 

White House adviser Kellyanne Conway dismissed the reports, saying Spicer would hold Tuesday's briefing.

Conway said the White House will continue to bring in cabinet secretaries and other top officials to handle news briefings on topics in their patch.

Dubke, who was brought into the White House in March as head of the office that runs press and other public relations issues, wanted to stay on through Trump's first foreign trip to ensure a smooth transition, Conway said.

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Although the White House communications director is a much less recognisable figure than Spicer’s position, they are usually major players - defining how the West Wing communicates and shaping the media agenda.

No date for his departure, which has been in the works for almost two weeks, has been announced. 

According to Axios, which first reported his departure, Dubke resigned on 18 May though he has not set a last day on the job. Dubke told Politico on Tuesday he expected to go back to Black Rock Group, his communications and public affairs firm.

For months rumours have echoed around the West Wing about Trump being poised to fire his public relations staff en masse. 

Many come from the Republican Party establishment and have been uneasy allies with the president.

Trump has privately and publicly expressed fury over a litany of bad headlines, alleged "fake news" stories and leaks to the press, lashing out at reporters and staff.

"It is my opinion that many of the leaks coming out of the White House are fabricated lies made up by the #FakeNews media," Trump wrote in a series of Twitter posts on Sunday.

The president's failure to pass significant legislation, legal challenges to his executive orders and a rolling scandal over his inner circle's ties with Russia have hobbled his young administration.

Controversy over the Russia issue deepened after Trump fired FBI director James Comey earlier this month, leading to allegations by critics that the president sought to hamper the agency's probe into the matter.

Moscow has denied US intelligence agencies' conclusion that it meddled in the campaign to try to tilt the election in Trump's favour. The president has denied any collusion, repeatedly denouncing the probes as an effort by Democrats to explain Hillary Clinton's upset defeat in the White House race.

Before Dubke, the most recent senior administration figure to leave the White House was Michael Flynn, Trump's national security adviser, who was fired 18 days after taking office for failing to disclose that he discussed sanctions with Russia’s ambassador in Washington while Barack Obama was still president.

Unlike Flynn, Dubke reportedly left on his own accord.

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