Trump Sanders

President Donald Trump welcomes White House press secretary Sarah Sanders to the stage as he pauses from speaking about second chance hiring to publicly thank the outgoing press secretary in the East Room of the White House, Thursday June 13, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

WASHINGTON | White House press secretary Sarah Sanders will leave her post at the end of the month, President Donald Trump announced Thursday.

Trump said he’s encouraging her to run for governor when she returns home to Arkansas, where her father once held the job.

Sanders is one of Trump’s closest and most trusted White House aides and one of the few remaining who worked on his campaign, taking on the job of advocating for and defending a president who had his own unconventional ideas about how to conduct the people’s business.

At an unrelated White House event, Trump described Sanders as a “warrior” as he called her to the stage. Sanders, appearing emotional, said serving Trump has been “the honor of a lifetime” and pledged to remain one of his “most outspoken and loyal supporters.”

Sanders, who is married and has three young children, later told reporters she wanted to spend more time with her family, but did not rule out running for public office.

“I learned a long time ago never to rule anything out,” said Sanders, 36. She was the first working mother and just the third woman to be named White House press secretary.

Sanders said she hasn’t discussed possible replacements with Trump. She said she saw no reason to delay informing the president once she had made her decision, saying her departure should give Trump time to put someone else in place before the 2020 presidential campaign heats up.