White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci called into CNN’s “New Day” early Thursday to explain his cryptic tweet that reportedly suggested he wants the FBI to investigate White House chief of staff Reince Priebus for the “leak” of Scaramucci’s financial disclosure form.
“In light of the leak of my financial disclosure info which is a felony, I will be contacting @FBI and the @JusticeDept #swamp @Reince45,” Scaramucci tweeted late Wednesday night after the document was published by Politico. Scaramucci later deleted the tweet.
But Lorraine Woellert, the Politico reporter who broke the story, said she had requested the disclosure form — which is publicly available information — through a simple records request.
“I’ve done a major amount of work over the past five days,” Scaramucci told CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Thursday. “I’ve interviewed most of the assistants to the president, I’ve interviewed most of the people on the communications team in the White House, and what the president and I would like to tell everybody, we have a very, very good idea of who the leakers are, who the senior leakers are in the White House.”
Scaramucci did not name names, but the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza reported late Wednesday that the communications chief had zeroed in on Priebus as the source of the most recent leak.
In a follow-up tweet, Scaramucci disputed the idea he was singling out the former Republican National Committee chair.
— Anthony Scaramucci (@Scaramucci) July 27, 2017
On “New Day,” Scaramucci said he has a brother-like relationship with Priebus, but isn’t sure that it’s sustainable for both of them to be in the West Wing.
“We’re rough on each other,” he said. “Some brothers are like Cain and Abel. Other brothers can fight with each other and get along. I don’t know if this is reparable or not; that’s up to the president.”
“If Reince wants to explain that he’s not a leaker,” Scaramucci added, “let him do that.”
Scaramucci said the administration is working with law enforcement to “undercut and undercover, or, out, if you will, the leakers in the entire country.”
“The White House leaks are small potatoes relative to things that are going on, leaking things about Syria, or North Korea, or leaking things about Iraq,” Scaramucci explained. “Those are the types of leaks that are so treasonous that 150 years ago, people would have actually been hung for those types of leaks.”
But Scaramucci said he is also concerned with the “nefarious, unnecessary, backstabbing, palace-intrigue-like leaks” coming from inside the West Wing.
“We’re American citizens, and the people that are working in those jobs have to honor those jobs,” Scaramucci said. “If there’s 300 people working there, and there’s 300 million people in the country, you’re one in a million. Why don’t you honor the job? Remember Joe Paterno? What would he say? ‘Act like you’ve been there before.’ Act with honor and dignity and respect and hold the confidence of the presidency and his office.”
He used another curious comparison make his case.
“As you know, from the Italian expression, the fish stinks from the head down,” Scaramucci said. “I can tell you two fish that don’t stink, OK? And that’s me and the president.”
“There are people inside the administration that think it is their job to save America from this president,” he continued. “That is not their job.”
Scaramucci — who had dinner at the White House Wednesday with Trump, first lady Melania Trump, Fox News host Sean Hannity and former Fox News executive Bill Shine — complained that news of that visit leaked too.
“I can’t have a couple of friends up from “Fox & Friends” and Sean Hannity, who’s one of my closest friends, to dinner with the president and his first lady, without it being leaked in seven minutes,” he said.
But Scaramucci also said he is open to leaking information — if it benefits Trump.
“If you want to leak something, you now have a new director of communications,” he said. “If it’s a leak that helps the presidency, why don’t we do that?”
Scaramucci was named by Trump to the top communications post last Friday.
On Monday, Scaramucci met with his communications staff to discuss leaks. He didn’t hold back, either, telling reporters he would purge the staff until the leaks stopped.
“Do you want to sell postcards to the tourists outside the gate or do you want to work in the West Wing? What do you want to do?” Scaramucci told reporters Tuesday in the driveway leading up to the West Wing. “I’m gonna put ‘em out on Pennsylvania Avenue.”
He further warned: “I’m going to fire everybody, that’s how I’m going to do it. You’re either going to stop leaking or you’re going to get fired.”
Scaramucci told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday that Trump is still not sure Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election, and that the president has not decided whether he will sign a bipartisan bill slapping new sanctions on Moscow.
On Thursday, Scaramucci suggested Trump may not sign the legislation, which was passed with veto-proof majorities in both chambers of Congress.
“He’s looking at the sanctions right now,” Scaramucci said. “He may decide to veto the sanctions and be tougher on the Russians than the Congress.”
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