Sarah Huckabee Sanders Is Leaving the White House: ‘A Very Special Person,’ Says Trump

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Sarah Huckabee Sanders will no longer be the White House press secretary.

President Donald Trump announced her departure via Twitter on Thursday, writing in the first of two tweets, “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.”

“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,” he wrote in a second tweet. “Sarah, thank you for a job well done!”

“I’ll try not to get emotional because I know that crying can make us seem weak sometimes. This has been the honor of a lifetime, the opportunity of a lifetime,” said Sanders, who drew criticism for her adamant defense of the president throughout her 22-month tenure, at a White House event on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Twitter erupted with criticism of Sanders, who has gone long stretches without holding press briefings and has often been accused of misleading the public on behalf of Trump.

The Daily Show tweeted, “So beautiful for Trump to honor Sarah Huckabee Sanders with one final lie.” (On Thursday, Trump said Sanders is “very popular.”)

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“Who’s gonna lie to the public & not hold press briefings now?” actor Misha Collins tweeted in part.

“Sarah Huckabee Sanders is leaving the White House, rumor has it she will be replaced by Pinocchio,” tweeted Albert Brooks.

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“It’s one of the greatest jobs I could ever have. I’ve loved every minute – even the hard minutes,” Sanders said on Thursday, adding that she will “continue to be one of the most outspoken and loyal supporters of the president and his agenda.”

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Speaking at the podium, Sanders said she plans to spend more time with her three children, whom she shares with her husband, pollster and strategist Bryan Chatfield Sanders.

“She’s done an incredible job,” Trump said Thursday. “We’ve been through a lot together. She’s tough but she’s good.”

Sanders and the White House did not immediately return PEOPLE’s request for comment about who is replacing her.

Trump’s reference to the governorship of Arkansas comes amid speculation Sanders will run for office, as CNN reported sources said she has “floated” the possibility in “private conversations in recent weeks.” However, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson was re-elected in November 2018, and the next election is in January 2023.

Sanders’ father, former Gov. Mike Huckabee, served as Arkansas’ 44th governor from 1996 to 2007.

After working as a senior adviser to Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, Sanders became deputy White House press secretary at the Trump White House when his presidency began in January 2017.

She took over the role of press secretary following the departure of Sean Spicer in summer 2017, becoming the third woman in the nation’s history to hold the job.