Trump removes Anthony Scaramucci as White House communications director
White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci has been removed from his job after just 10 days in a move that has only increased the sense of chaos at the heart of the Trump administration.
The shock development follows a turbulent series of media appearances over the last week by the combative former Wall Street financier, capped by a foul-mouthed tirade to a New Yorker journalist on Thursday.
News of his rapid political demise came less than six hours after the appointment of former US marine Gen John Kelly as Donald Trump’s new chief of staff.
“Anthony Scaramucci will be leaving his role as White House communications director,” said press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders in a statement on Monday afternoon. “Mr Scaramucci felt it was best to give chief of staff John Kelly a clean slate and the ability to build his own team. We wish him all the best.”
The decision to remove Scaramucci, nicknamed “the Mooch”, came at Kelly’s request, the New York Times reported.
His removal may take some pressure off Steve Bannon, the longtime Trump aide whose position has been under threat in recent weeks. Scaramucci made Bannon a target in his rant to the New Yorker and, in response, was the subject of repeatedly negative articles on Breitbart, the publication Bannon once ran.
Scaramucci was hired on 21 July, months after the departure of Michael Dubke, who had struggled to craft a coherent communications strategy as the administration spun from one controversy to the next. Sean Spicer reportedly opposed the hiring of Scaramucci and resigned as White House press secretary the same day.
Spicer was spotted by reporters in the West Wing apparently helping to shape the statement announcing Scaramucci’s removal from office.
Scaramucci’s appointment was also reportedly opposed by chief of staff Reince Priebus, who immediately came under fire from the new communications chief for alleged leaks, and was forced out on Friday and replaced by Kelly. As his first act, Kelly in turn seems to have forced out Scaramucci.
Asked if Scaramucci had any role now in the White House, the press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, told a media briefing: “He does not have a role at this time.”
Turning to Scaramucci’s New Yorker interview, she said: “The president felt his comments were inappropriate.”
She would not say whether Scaramucci was fired or had resigned, but added that he had felt “he did not want to burden Gen Kelly with that line of succession”.
Kelly had been given full authority by the president over the White House staff and “all staff will report to him”, she said.
A Long Island native with an affinity for the spotlight, Scaramucci had long drawn comparisons to Trump himself. Both men have deep ties to New York, and Trump was said to admire Scaramucci’s unflinching loyalty.
A graduate of Harvard law school and a former Goldman Sachs banker, Scaramucci founded the global hedge fund SkyBridge Capital in 2005, but sold it in 2017 in preparation for a role in the Trump administration. He founded the Salt conference, named after his company, which attracts big name speakers from Washington, Hollywood and Wall Street.
Though Scaramucci became a critical fundraiser for the Trump campaign, it was not his first choice. Before the presidential campaign of 2012, Scaramucci expressed early support for Hillary Clinton. “I hope she runs [in 2016], she is incredibly competent,” he apparently wrote in a deleted tweet from April 2012, according to screenshots published by the Daily Beast. He also called her “the real deal.”
But when the campaign actually arrived, he first donated to Wisconsin governor Scott Walker’s campaign until it collapsed, and then he joined Jeb Bush.
Before he joined the Trump campaign, Scaramucci called Trump “anti-American” and “another hack politician”.
“I’ll tell you who he’s gonna be president of, you can tell Donald I said this: the Queens County Bullies Association,” Scaramucci said during a segment on Fox Business in August 2015. “You are an inherited-money dude from Queens County. Bring it.”
After being hired by Trump, he deleted a number of his old tweets that contradicted the president’s policy positions.
His most controversial moment during his short tenure as communications chief was undoubtedly his remarks to a New Yorker interviewer that the then-chief of staff, Reince Priebus, was “a fucking paranoid schizophrenic” who would be asked to resign (he later was), and that Scaramucci was not like Steve Bannon, the chief strategist, because “I’m not trying to suck my own cock”.
The Washington Post reported that Kelly was “dismayed” by the interview and found it “abhorrent and embarrassing for the president”.
Chinese conglomerate HNA Group is currently in negotiations to buy SkyBridge Capital. Scaramucci announced the sale at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January, which was meant to free him of potential conflicts of interest before an official appointment.
But that sale – believed to be worth $250m – is being held back pending a government review, reportedly by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, the agency charged with evaluating the impact on America’s national security of the sales of US businesses.
Scaramucci’s wife Deirdre filed for divorce recently while nine months pregnant with their second child. Scaramucci missed the birth last Monday because he was traveling with Trump on Air Force One.
The firing met with some swift praise on Capitol Hill. Carlos Curbelo, a moderate Republican from Florida who did not support Trump in 2016, tweeted: “General Kelly is 1 for 1. Let’s keep it going,” tweeted Curbelo.
Trump tweeted this morning: “Highest Stock Market EVER, best economic numbers in years, unemployment lowest in 17 years, wages raising, border secure, SC: no WH chaos!”
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