In a profanity-laced and on-the-record conversation with New Yorker political reporter Ryan Lizza, President Donald Trump's White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci—who took the job less than a week ago—attacked senior White House advisor Steven Bannon, Trump's chief of staff Reince Priebus, and other unnamed officials saying he would "fire all of them" if the journalist did not divulge the person who leaked recent information from the White House.
"I'm not Steve Bannon, I'm not trying to suck my own cock... I'm not trying to build my own brand off the fucking strength of the President. I'm here to serve the country." —White House communications director Anthony ScaramucciAnd then, as Lizza reported late Thursday afternoon, "it escalated from there."
The exchange took place in a phone call Wednesday night, which was initiated by Scaramucci, after Lizza post on social media about his knowledge of attendees at a private White House dinner with the president. According to Lizza, Scaramucci wanted to know who tipped him off about the guest list and became increasingly angry when the reporter refused to divulge his source.
From the New Yorker:
"Is it an assistant to the President?" [Scaramucci] asked. I again told him I couldn’t say. "O.K., I’m going to fire every one of them, and then you haven't protected anybody, so the entire place will be fired over the next two weeks."
I asked him why it was so important for the dinner to be kept a secret. Surely, I said, it would become public at some point. "I've asked people not to leak things for a period of time and give me a honeymoon period," he said. "They won't do it." He was getting more and more worked up, and he eventually convinced himself that Priebus was my source.
"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.” 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.'" (Priebus did not respond to a request for comment.)
Subsequently, Bannon gets mentioned and then Scaramucci lets loose. Explaining to Lizza that he's not interested in the media attention, Scaramucci declared, "I'm not Steve Bannon, I'm not trying to suck my own cock... I'm not trying to build my own brand off the fucking strength of the President. I'm here to serve the country."
A conversation with Anthony Scaramucci... https://t.co/7TY64NfAWu
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— Ryan Lizza (@RyanLizza) July 27, 2017
And what, beyond firing them, might he do with all these leakers?
"What I want to do is I want to fucking kill all the leakers and I want to get the President’s agenda on track so we can succeed for the American people," Scaramucci reportedly told Lizza.
Though an audio recording of the call was not mentioned or published, in a tweet Wednesday evening the communications director appeared to confirm the veracity by not questioning the reporting but only admitting that sometimes he uses "colorful language."
— Anthony Scaramucci (@Scaramucci) July 27, 2017
Two hours later, he added:
I made a mistake in trusting in a reporter. It won't happen again.
— Anthony Scaramucci (@Scaramucci) July 28, 2017