(There were profane autofellatio references.)
In what comes as perhaps the least surprising revelation of another mad week in politics, it appears that Anthony Scaramucci, the new White House communications director who dresses like an overeager junior production assistant invited to tour the set of The Wolf of Wall Street, may have learned everything he knows about leadership from that movie’s dialogue, too. The day after Scaramucci fired off a bizarre tweet that The New Yorker‘s Ryan Lizza reported was meant to accuse President Trump’s chief of staff, Reince Preibus, of leaking Scaramucci’s financial disclosure, Lizza’s full report of his subsequent conversation with the Mooch caused me to yelp aloud multiple times and physically recoil from my desk as if it were suddenly engulfed in flames.
The source of Scaramucci’s ire, apparently, was Lizza’s fairly innocuous tweet that Scaramucci would be dining that evening with President Trump, Sean Hannity, and several other Fox News personalities. Scaramucci immediately called and demanded that Lizza identify his source, eventually attempting to persuade Lizza by reading what sounds like a lazily-constructed Fourth of July-themed mad lib.
I said I couldn’t give him that
information. He responded by threatening to fire the entire White
House communications staff. “What I’m going to do is, I will eliminate
everyone in the comms team and we’ll start over,” he said. I laughed,
not sure if he really believed that such a threat would convince a
journalist to reveal a source. He continued to press me and complain
about the staff he’s inherited in his new job. “I ask these guys not
to leak anything and they can’t help themselves,” he said. “You’re
an American citizen, this is a major catastrophe for the American
country. So I’m asking you as an American patriot to give me a sense
of who leaked it.”
Scaramucci then moved on to his best Apprentice-era Donald Trump impression, apparently convincing himself via soliloquy that Priebus had been the tipster and vowing to extract vengeance on enemies both real and imagined:
“They’ll all be fired by me,” he said. “I fired one guy the other day.
I have three to four people I’ll fire tomorrow. I’ll get to the person
who leaked that to you. Reince Priebus—if you want to leak
something—he’ll be asked to resign very shortly.”
This is probably not at all accurate, but I like to imagine him doing all this while pacing excitedly around the living room of his D.C. corporate apartment, shouting into a Bluetooth earpiece and pausing only to occasionally snort another one of the several line of coke he had carefully arranged on the coffee table.
The issue, he said, was that he believed Priebus had been worried
about the dinner because he hadn’t been invited. “Reince is a fucking
paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoiac,” Scaramucci said. He channelled
Priebus as he spoke: “ ‘Oh, Bill Shine is coming in. Let me leak the
fucking thing and see if I can cock-block these people the way I
cock-blocked Scaramucci for six months.’ ”
Here comes the second-best parenthetical in the storied history of The New Yorker:
(Priebus did not respond to a request for comment.)
Did Scaramucci occasionally drift into the third person for no apparent reason in between reiterating a desire to “fucking kill all the leakers” in order to “get the President’s agenda back on track” ? Why, he sure did!
“The swamp will not defeat him,” he said, breaking into the third
person. “They’re trying to resist me, but it’s not going to work. I’ve
done nothing wrong on my financial disclosures, so they’re going to
have to go fuck themselves.”
[Pumps fist wildly, inhales another line of hypothetical blow]
Scaramucci also told me that, unlike other senior officials, he had no
interest in media attention. “I’m not Steve Bannon, I’m not trying to
suck my own cock,” he said, speaking of Trump’s chief strategist. “I’m
not trying to build my own brand off the fucking strength of the
President. I’m here to serve the country.”
Remember that second-best parenthetical I mentioned earlier? The only reason it takes home the silver is because this exists:
(Bannon declined to comment.)
Later, Scaramucci deleted his tweet and walked back his comments, claiming that his purpose in tagging Priebus was actually to express his intent to work with Priebus to find the mysterious leakers, which is such a bafflingly dumb explanation that I genuinely can’t decide whether Scaramucci is that stupid, or whether he thinks the people watching him on TV are that stupid, or a little bit of both. Either way, the next senior staff meeting sounds like it’s going to be lit.
There’s a non-zero chance that Bannon, an avowed lover of chaos who has made abundantly clear that he doesn’t care what people say about him as long as it doesn’t interfere with his unfettered accumulation of raw power, was in on the stunt from the beginning. At a time when Senate Republicans are working feverishly to cobble together enough support for a Frankenstein’s monster of a health care bill that many of them don’t actually want enacted into law, trotting out Scaramucci to stir up some outrageous, headline-grabbing shit that doesn’t have meaningful policy implications isn’t a terrible plan. For what it’s worth, Scaramucci is maybe doing his part to keep the story going.
But also, I long ago gave up on the idea that anyone in this White House is a brilliant 12-dimensional chess master carefully deploying their sickest, most profane diatribes to maximize political impact. It seems a lot more likely that Anthony Scaramucci, like many of his West Wing peers, is kind of a vapid dunce who is nowhere close to as smart as he imagines himself to be, and that sometimes, yelling to a stranger over phone for awhile is the very best medicine.
The White House communications director is shocked, shocked I tell you, to learn that something he said to a reporter who he called and spoke to voluntarily somehow ended up being… reported.
Scaramucci, who initiated the call, did not ask for the conversation
to be off the record or on background.
Let’s Take a Look at the Trump Timeline
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