Donald Trump fires Anthony Scaramucci over his vulgar remarks, unpredictability
U.S. President Donald Trump removed his communications director after just 10 days on Monday, a record low.
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WASHINGTON—Donald Trump has fired someone for making vulgar remarks and being a loose cannon.
Anthony Scaramucci swaggered into the White House as a golden boy empowered to “fire everybody” to clean up the communications operation of the administration that couldn’t talk straight. Ten days later, the belligerent financier was swept away himself.
Scaramucci was ousted on Monday afternoon, uncoincidentally mere hours after a former marine general, John Kelly, was sworn in as the president’s chief of staff. Kelly is attempting to impose some level of discipline on an operation widely perceived as dysfunctional.
Trump tried to challenge that perception on Monday morning, claiming on Twitter that there was “no WH chaos!” By the end of the day, he had lost his third senior aide in a week and a half.
“A great day at the White House!” he tweeted in the early evening.
Scaramucci’s tenure, if one can call it that, was the shortest of any White House communications director ever. It was also one of the most memorable, a gong show from start to finish. His fatal sin may have been a colourfully profane rant to the New Yorker magazine last week in which he insulted then-chief of staff Reince Priebus and chief strategist Steve Bannon.
He sounded like Trump is known to sound in private, and Trump, who had appeared to authorize the assault on Priebus, was initially untroubled by the tirade, according to U.S. media reports. But Trump grew agitated, reports suggested, when the negative coverage piled up.
“The president certainly felt that Anthony’s comments were inappropriate for a person in that position,” press secretary Sarah Sanders said Monday.
The ouster is another black mark on the judgment of a president who promised to bring in “the best people.” Trump has now lost all three of his picks as communications director, plus a press secretary and a national security adviser.
“The hiring never should have happened. It was a disgrace, it was ridiculous, it was indefensible for someone with no experience to be hired for a senior role like that,” said Matt Mackowiak, a Republican communications strategist. “And then to be sort of totally unshackled the entire time, doing whatever he wanted, reporting directly to the president: it was untenable.”
All three of the departures of the past two weeks were connected to Scaramucci. Press secretary Sean Spicer quit when Scaramucci was made his boss; Scaramucci then helped pressure long-embattled Priebus into leaving; Scaramucci was then fired himself.
Mackowiak said the firing is a positive sign about Kelly’s reign as chief of staff, a move that suggests the former homeland security secretary will be empowered to make necessary changes. Sanders said all of Trump’s aides would report to Kelly, a marked departure from the Oval Office free-for-all of the Priebus days.
But the termination extends one of the worst stretches of Trump’s rocky six months. In addition to the Senate’s dramatic decision to reject his effort to replace Obamacare, Trump has suffered through an unusual series of rebukes from people who do not tend to criticize the president.
Over the past 10 days, Trump has been chastised by the Boy Scouts for an aggressively political speech at their national jamboree, by the Pentagon for attempting to ban transgender soldiers via Twitter, by senior Republican senators who fear he is angling to fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and by the International Association of Chiefs of Police for appearing to endorse the injuring of arrested suspects.
Trump was “making a joke” when he said officers should feel free not to protect suspects’ heads, Sanders insisted on Monday.
Scaramucci was improbably supposed to get the dormant White House message machine functioning. An aggressive and well-dressed hedge fund executive who had never served in government, he impressed the president through appearances on Fox News.
Trump hired him over the objections of Spicer, Priebus and Bannon, and he showcased his polish in a hyperbolic but cheerful debut in the White House briefing room on July 21 — during which, the Daily Show pointed out, he appeared to mimic Trump’s mannerisms. But the veneer faded fast. Scaramucci proved almost immediately to be out of his depth, demonstrating a rare mix of bravado, anger and incompetence.
On Tuesday, his fifth day, he told the website Politico that he was going to fire press aide Michael Short. But he did not tell Short himself. When the story was published, he accused other aides of maliciously leaking the news he had himself disclosed.
In a call to a CNN show on Thursday morning, he raged against leakers while drawing yet more attention to himself.
“As you know from the Italian expression, the fish stinks from the head down,” he said. “What I can tell you two fish that don’t stink, OK, and that’s me and the president.”
In fact, Trump was about to sour on him. Later that day, the New Yorker published its summary of an unsolicited Wednesday phone call to a journalist in which Scaramucci offered up a variety of unprintable insults about his veteran colleagues and accused Priebus of committing a felony over a leak that did not actually occur.
Trump, frequently criticized for his own incendiary comments, was said to be unfazed, angry only at Priebus for declining to fight back. But coverage of Scaramucci turned sharply negative in even Trump-friendly outlets like the website Breitbart, which Bannon once led, and Trump went from “amused to annoyed,” according to an official quoted by Politico.
Scaramucci’s week was comprehensively terrible. The New York Post tabloid reported that his wife had filed for divorce, allegedly in part because of his devotion to Trump.
He resorted to pleading on Twitter for the media to leave “civilians” alone.
Three days after that, he was a lowly civilian himself.