In an unhinged, profanity laced phone call to the The New Yorker, latest White House press secretary Anthony Scaramucci went at journalist Ryan Lizza and demanded he hand over the name of whoever leaked information that Scaramucci was having dinner President Trump, the First Lady, Sean Hannity, and former Fox News executive Bill Shine on Tuesday night. Here’s how Lizza described the truly insane call:
I asked him why it was so important for the dinner to be kept a secret. Surely, I said, it would become public at some point. “I’ve asked people not to leak things for a period of time and give me a honeymoon period,” he said. “They won’t do it.” He was getting more and more worked up, and he eventually convinced himself that Priebus was my source.
“They’ll all be fired by me,” he said. “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.” The issue, he said, was that he believed Priebus had been worried about the dinner because he hadn’t been invited. “Reince is a fucking paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoiac,” Scaramucci said. He channelled Priebus as he spoke: “ ‘Oh, Bill Shine is coming in. Let me leak the fucking thing and see if I can cock-block these people the way I cock-blocked Scaramucci for six months.’ ”
Scaramucci then took on Steve Bannon:
Scaramucci also told me that, unlike other senior officials, he had no interest in media attention. “I’m not Steve Bannon, I’m not trying to suck my own cock,” he said, speaking of Trump’s chief strategist. “I’m not trying to build my own brand off the fucking strength of the President. I’m here to serve the country.”
(Leaving aside the graphic innuendo, Scaramucci’s assertion that he isn’t trying to build his own brand is somewhat strange coming from a man who made a living as a host on Fox News and is now the major media face of the Trump administration…)
It’s hard to know what to say about this, but there are some clues if you’ve been following Trump for the past two years. Scaramucci’s attack on senior White House staff is so completely insane that it can must have been orchestrated, at least in part, by the president himself. Trump is known for his scorched earth strategy of destroying everything in sight when the going gets tough. Trump is reportedly furious by the non-stop leaks coming out of his administration, and likely believes many in his staff are growing tired of his chaotic, incompetent management. He suspects disloyalty, and has brought in a former Hedge Fund manager and wannabe tough guy to do some “disrupting” for him. Scaramucci must have known that The New Yorker would have published his little rant, and he and Trump probably gambled that it would frighten Preibus, Bannon or anyone else putting their own agenda ahead of Trump’s.
Here’s how Politico describes Scaramucci and Trump’s “war” on disloyal aides:
In the span of six days, he has launched a brutally edged campaign to identify White House leakers, threatened to “fire everybody” in the communications shop, and has declared war on chief of staff Reince Priebus and chief strategist Steve Bannon.
Scaramucci, who boasted that he reports directly to President Donald Trump, has described his role as “fixing the place,” said one person who spoke with him this week.
If by “fixing the place” Scaramucci means creating a civil war in the already deeply dysfunctional White House, then he’s doing a mighty fine job of it.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.