Reince Priebus on Scaramucci’s comments about him: I’m not going to get “into the mud” on that. https://t.co/jlnkILvimn
— CNN (@CNN) July 28, 2017
In his first on-camera interview since Donald Trump announced Gen. John Kelly would replace him as White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus refused to address Anthony Scaramucci’s volatile comments about him on Thursday. Speaking with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, the former Republican National Committee chairman said he had “no reaction” to the new communications director’s labeling him a “f*cking paranoid schizophrenic” and “paranoiac” in a rather candid interview with The New Yorker. “I’m not going to respond to it,” he said. “I’m not going to get into the mud on those sorts of things.”
“I’m not going to get into the weeds on that,” Priebus continued after telling Blitzer he and Trump “had an understanding” about a possible transition in the near future. “I support what the president did and I’m not getting into that, Wolf. Look, it’s over. I’m moving on. I support the president and I support John Kelly and the president’s agenda. That’s all you’re going to get from me on that. I’m not going to get into the individual, personal stuff.”
Refusing to let the apparently embarrassed Priebus’ non-answers slide, however, Blitzer pushed the ousted White House official for comment on Scaramucci’s tweeted and stated claims that he was behind several leaks. Despite the second attempt, Priebus refused to accommodate the CNN anchor with anything more than continued praise for Trump and Kelly (though very little regarding Scaramucci). “That’s ridiculous,” he said. “I’m not going to get into his accusations.” When Blitzer asked him why he wouldn’t respond, Priebus answered, “I’m not going to. It doesn’t honor the president. I’m going to honor the president everyday, I’m going to honor his agenda, and I’m going to honor the country. I’m not going to get into all of this personal stuff.”
— CNN (@CNN) July 28, 2017
That being said, Priebus didn’t deny the possibility that a “leaking problem” currently exists in the White House, but stated it would be up to Kelly to find the culprits and prevent further leaks to the press. He also insisted that he chose to submit his formal resignation to Trump personally on Thursday, and that the president — nor anyone else — had pressured him to do so.
The outgoing chief of staff’s refusal to address Scaramucci’s crude insults against him is telling, especially considering a small bit reported by the Wall Street Journal. According to an anonymous advisor who spoke to the president about the New Yorker interview (which he reportedly enjoyed), Trump was “dismissive” of Priebus “for not returning fire” against Scaramucci in a public forum, or privately through an approved press leak.