Anthony Scaramucci, the new White House communications director who has perfected the art of Trump-like gesticulation, arrived at the White House with a mandate to plug the leaks that have so infuriated the president over the last few months. Scaramucci’s straightforward strategy takes a cue from Trump’s persona on The Apprentice. “If you’re going to keep leaking, I’m going to fire everybody,” Scaramucci told Face the Nation.
Politico reports that the first victim of the staff purge is Michael Short, an assistant White House press secretary. But in a chain of events typical for this anarchic administration, Short said he did not know anything about his own firing, claiming, “Nobody has told me anything, and the entire premise is false.” The reporter who broke the story maintained that the firing was still on, but had been delayed by White House lawyers. Later, Short said he had resigned.
The Washington Post reports that Scaramucci’s hit list is expected to consist mostly of Republican National Committee staffers loyal to Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, ratcheting up tension between the two:
Scaramucci has long complained to associates that some White House staffers have been more focused on managing the image of Priebus than on defending Trump and promoting his agenda. An informal list of names, including several officials who previously worked under Priebus and Spicer at the Republican National Committee, has been circulating among Scaramucci allies as those whose jobs may be in jeopardy.
One of Priebus’s deputies, Katie Walsh, was pushed out of the White House earlier this year, and Scaramucci’s planned overhaul is likely to leave Priebus even more isolated in the West Wing.
But he admitted on Sunday that even if he were to successfully root out leakers in the communications department, he would not be able to do much to stem the tide of information flowing from other federal agencies. This is a key point, since many of the most substantive leaks during the opening months of the Trump administration have originated from the intelligence world and elsewhere in the government.
This post has been updated to include Short’s claim that he resigned.