White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci cryptically name-dropped Chief of Staff Reince Priebus in a tweet Wednesday night complaining about leakers and then dropped a hammer on him Thursday on national television.
In a remarkable interview on CNN’s “New Day,” the new communications director made very public his rift with Priebus and exposed dysfunction in the West Wing as President Donald Trump is trying to get a health bill passed and right a ship that has been leaking from day one.
Scaramucci said he respects the role of journalists, who know where to find leakers.
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“However, when I put out a tweet and I put Reince’s name in the tweet, they’re all making the assumption that it’s him, because journalists know who the leakers are,” he said. “So if Reince wants to explain that he’s not a leaker, let him do that.”
So much for the idea that Scaramucci and Priebus are just like a couple of brothers who fight and make up, as the communications director suggested immediately after his hiring, amid reports that the chief of staff opposed the move.
“We have had odds. We have had differences. When I said we were like brothers from the podium, that’s because we’re rough on each other,” he told anchor Chris Cuomo. “Some brothers are like Cain and Abel. Other brothers can fight with each other and get along. I don’t know if this is reparable or not. That will be up to the president.”
So far, Priebus has not responded.
Scaramucci launched the first salvo with a since-deleted tweet reading: “In light of the leak of my financial disclosure info which is a felony. I will be contacting #FBI and the @TheJusticeDept #swamp @Reince45”
Just before midnight, Scaramucci denied an Axios headline suggesting that he wanted Priebus investigated by the FBI: “Wrong! Tweet was public notice to leakers that all Sr Adm officials are helping to end illegal leaks. @Reince45″
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But Scaramucci made clear in his interview with Cuomo that he believes the White House has an “absolutely, totally and completely reprehensible” problem. Although he acknowledged that staff leaks are “small potatoes” compared to national security disclosures, he said it still is a major problem. He referenced an Italian saying, “A fish stinks from the head down,” and added: “Well I can tell you two fish that don’t stink, OK, and that’s me and the president.”
Scaramucci’s comments are consistent with LifeZette reporting that Priebus might be operating on borrowed time. Scaramucci cast his actions in personal terms.
“I don’t like the activity that’s going on in the White House,” he told Cuomo. “I don’t like what they’re doing to my friend. I don’t like what they’re doing to the president of the United States or for their fellow colleagues in the West Wing.”
Scaramucci said there are “people inside the administration who think it’s their job to save America from this president.” That, he said, will not be tolerated. He drew on his business experience managing employees who are under-confident or insecure.
“If you can’t bolster them and make them better, you have to remove them from the process because then it becomes addition by subtraction,” he said.
Throughout the course of the interview, Scaramucci also made “Joe Patnero” a trending term on Twitter.
“You remember Joe Paterno? What would he say?” he said. “Act like you’ve been there before. Act with honor and dignity and respect.”
Numerous Twitter users pointed out that Paterno might not be the best reference since his legendary career as Penn State University’s football coach ended in disgrace amid allegations that he helped cover up child molestation by one of his assistant coaches.
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