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Anthony Scaramucci challenged chief of staff Reince Priebus  to deny that he was behind White Houe leaks on Thursday. (Photo: Алексей М/Flickr/cc)

Scaramucci Goes to War Over "Leak" That Turns Out To Be Public Document

Amid reported infighting, communications director threatens to turn FBI on White House staff

Julia Conley

White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci waged war with President Trump's chief of staff, Reince Priebus, Thursday morning over leaks from the White House to journalists. But Scaramucci's fight against leaks appears to be at least partially focused on public information, and on the perfectly legal transfer of information from officials to the press.

After Politico reported Wednesday evening that Scaramucci could still profit from his former hedge fund while working in the White House, the new communications director tweeted an angry message regarding the website's use of his financial disclosure form.

By law the form had been submitted to the Office of Government Ethics when Scaramucci was hired by the White House, and was therefore public information.

Still, Scaramucci threatened to report the leak of the form to the FBI and the Justice Department, and tagged Priebus in the tweet, leading to speculation that he was implicating the chief of staff in the so-called leak.

Lorraine Woellert, the reporter who wrote the Politico story, explained on her own Twitter account that no one had leaked the form, leading Scaramucci to quickly delete his post.

While Scaramucci denied that he was making an accusation, saying he was simply making it known that senior administration officials were all helping to end leaks, he called in to CNN's "New Day" on Thursday morning to directly challenge Priebus to deny his involvement.

Later on "New Day," Joshua Green of Bloomberg noted that Scaramucci's fight against leakers appears to be having the unintended effect of creating an even closer relationship between journalists and some of their secret sources.

Scaramucci's attempt at cracking down on leaks has so far been focused on the notion that leaks from the White House are inherently illegal, but according to an article posted earlier this year by Politifact, "There isn't a single law that criminalizes all leaks of classified or privileged government information to the media."

Politifact also noted as the president expressed anger about the leaks regarding information about the White House's Russian contacts, that "Trump's public railing against the leaks might be saber-rattling in order to deter future unwanted disclosures."

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