White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci assailed rivals Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon, two top aides to President Donald Trump, in a profane tirade that is sure to inflame a running and very public feud among top White House officials.
“They’ll all be fired by me,” Scaramucci said, according to New Yorker writer, Ryan Lizza, who said the communications director — not even a week in his new job — had called him late Wednesday. The reason for the call was to complain about a Lizza tweet that revealed Trump’s dinner that night with Scaramucci, Fox News host Sean Hannity and a former Fox executive.
Scaramucci, who has made ferreting out leakers his top priority since being named to the position, demanded Lizza identify his source. Lizza said he declined to do so.
“I fired one guy the other day. I have three to four people I’ll fire tomorrow. I’ll get to the person who leaked that to you. Reince Priebus — if you want to leak something — he’ll be asked to resign very shortly,” Scaramucci said. “Reince is a f—— paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoiac.”
Later in the interview, he also attacked Trump’s chief strategist, Bannon, who he said sought media attention at the president’s expense.
“I’m not Steve Bannon,” Scaramucci told Lizza, using a vulgar expression to indicate the senior adviser to the president was only interested in pleasing himself. “I’m not trying to build my own brand” off the president. “I’m here to serve the country.”
Lizza said Scaramucci never asked to be off the record and that Priebus and Bannon both declined to comment about the remarks. None of the White House officials immediately responded to requests for comment from Bloomberg.
But on Thursday night, two hours after the article was published, Scaramucci did respond via Twitter.
The New Yorker report was the latest episode in a White House drama that exploded into a public spectacle on Thursday. It laid bare a power struggle among factions within an administration besieged by multiple investigations and stalled on its agenda.
The remarks from Scaramucci, a Trump loyalist, create a public face-off with Priebus, who holds a job that in any other White House would be one of the most powerful in Washington. It also comes as Trump has been berating his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, in public statements and on Twitter.
Earlier Thursday, Scaramucci undermined Priebus during a live, 30-minute interview on CNN, suggesting the White House chief of staff was behind some of the leaks that have sparked turmoil in the White House and anger from Trump.
“If Reince wants to explain that he’s not a leaker, let him do that,” Scaramucci told CNN during a half-hour live phone interview. “I’m a straight shooter. I’ll go right to the heart of the matter.”
Scaramucci said there is an establishment element inside the White House that is trying “to save America from this president” and is interfering with the full changes Trump is trying to make to “transform” the nation and “drain the swamp.”
He didn’t name who he thinks is among that element, but Priebus is a longtime party figure who was Republican National Committee chairman before joining a Trump team dominated by outsiders.
Trump changed the communications director job he gave Scaramucci to directly report to the president, bypassing Priebus and setting up a potential rivalry among two men who have had a sometimes-tempestuous relationship in the past.
“We have had odds, we have had differences,” Scaramucci said of Priebus during the course of the CNN interview. “Some brothers are like Cain and Abel” while others can get along, he said. He also suggested that Trump himself knows the contours of some of the internal leaks.
The focus on leaks offers Trump an opportunity to turn public attention from congressional and special counsel probes of Russian meddling in the U.S. election and whether the president’s campaign had any involvement. But the White House infighting also has unsettled many fellow Republicans in Congress as efforts to pass health care and tax legislation are struggling.
Senator John Kennedy, a Louisiana Republican, told CNN after the Scaramucci interview that while some public spats are inevitable in every presidential administration “in this White House it’s out of control.”
“You don’t have to comment on everything,” he said. “I wouldn’t do it.”
Scaramucci: Trump May Veto Russia Sanctions, Push ‘Tougher Deal’
After Scaramucci’s Wednesday night conversation with Lizza he took to Twitter with accusations that he was the victim of an illegal leak of his financial information.
“In light of the leak of my financial disclosure info which is a felony. I will be contacting @FBI and the @TheJusticeDept,” Scaramucci said on Twitter Wednesday night, tagging Priebus’ Twitter handle in a way that suggested he was calling out Priebus as a leaker — an assertion Scaramucci later denied he was trying to make.
The tweet followed a Politico report that the SkyBridge Capital founder had a net worth of as much as $85 million, citing a financial disclosure dated June 23 that he filed with the U.S. Office of Government Ethics.
It wasn’t clear that there was a leak. Lorraine Woellert, Politico’s reporter on the story, said on Twitter she requested the financial disclosure form through normal channels and was provided it by the Export-Import Bank. The documents are supposed to be available to any member of the public within 30 days of being certified by the employing agency, in this case the bank. Scaramucci deleted his Twitter message on the leak.
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