“Fire everybody.” That’s the new strategy for Anthony Scaramucci, Trump’s new White House Communications Director. He has presented a tough new solution to the problem of the Trump White House’s perpetual, un-pluggable leaks. Scaramucci has kicked off his tenure by talking big about how he isn’t afraid to take the Trump administration’s communication team down to the studs if it means protecting his boss from the constant drips and trickles of information on everything from Don Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer to the President’s own angry rants at his television set.
It seems Scaramucci intended to start with assistant press secretary Michael Short, a Sean Spicer loyalist who, up until Scaramucci told his intentions to Poltico, had no idea he was about to hear the President’s famous catchphrase. “This is the problem with the leaking,” he told reporters gathered outside the White House. “This is actually a terrible thing. Let’s say I’m firing Michael Short today. The fact that you guys know about it before he does really upsets me as a human being and as a Roman Catholic.”
Very quickly, Scaramucci came out swinging at his predecessor’s staff while Spicer saved his vitriol for the press itself, famously calling out specific reporters. And despite his apparent dismay that Short should hear word of his career change from the press, it seems that is indeed what happened. “No one has told me anything and the entire premise is false,” Short said, shortly after Scaramucci’s interview with Politico. Two hours later, it seemed the deed was done.
So went the opening salvo of Scaramucci’s campaign of cleansing fire. “I’m going to fire everybody, that’s how I’m going to do it,” Scaramucci said to reporters outside of the White House on Tuesday. “You’re either going to stop leaking or you’re going to be fired.”
Scaramucci says he “offered amnesty” in his first meeting with the communications team, but added that ultimately “that decision is above my rank.” Based on what happened with Short, that might be lip service. One reporter observed that Scaramucci’s take-charge approach seemed to spill beyond his rank, though his initiative is certainly in keeping with a White House that has played fast and loose with traditional governmental roles.
Despite the fire-and-brimstone approach, Scaramucci did make it clear he is compassionate towards the “patriotic people” who might lose their jobs over leaks.
As for how he plans to rebuild the Trump administration’s communications team, he told Politico, a source close to Scaramucci has already leaked that he wants to tap “conservative broadcast stars” and individuals with a background in “corporate communications.” That’s also in keeping with the Trump administration’s favor for government outsiders with strong business backgrounds. In the meantime, he’s “committed to taking the comms shop down to Sarah [Huckabee Sanders] and me, if I can’t get the leaks to stop.”
Scaramucci’s purge is also potentially revealing of where the fracture lines lie in between Republican Party and the Trump administration. Politico notes that many of those on the top tier of Scaramucci’s hit list are loyal not only to Sean Spicer, but also Reince Priebus. Priebus has been caught between the GOP and Trump since the latter’s campaign heated up last summer, and his relationship with the President has never been entirely easy. If Scaramucci is really as loyal to Trump as his Bill Brasky-esque introduction suggests, that could be another sign of just how infuriated the President is with the party that has passed new sanctions against Russia, in addition to other perceived offenses.