When Anthony Scaramucci vowed to crack down on leaks from the White House, we didn’t think that meant airing its dirty laundry instead.
On Weds. night, Donald Trump’s new communications director accused White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus of leaking his financial disclosure forms to POLITICO and said he wants the FBI to investigate. And since this is Donald Trump‘s mouthpiece, he did it on Twitter.
“In light of the leak of my financial disclosure info, which is a felony,” Scaramucci tweeted, “I will be contacting @FBI and the @TheJusticeDept #Swamp @Reince45.”
Ryan Lizza from CNN and The New Yorker retweeted it with just one word, “Whoa.” He then clarified his tweet with yet another tweet, and some kindly Twitizen got the screen caps.
In case there’s any ambiguity in this tweet I can confirm that Saramucci wants the FBI to investigate Reince for leaking.
When an astonished Chris Hayes from MSNBC asked, “Wait really?” Lizza bluntly replied, “Yes.”
Don Lemon from CNN then jumped in with a panel discussion. His guests included Scott Jennings and Margaret Hoover (who’ve both served in George W. Bush’s White House), Democratic strategist Keith Boykin, Ryan Lizza (via phone) and CNN Justice reporter Evan Perez (also via phone). But if you were hoping for the usual partisan pundit slugfest, you’ll be disappointed.
They all agreed that Anthony Scaramucci’s tweet and the constant infighting and tweeting in Donald Trump’s White House are a disgrace.
For starters, as Evan Perez pointed out, there was nothing illegal about “leaking” the millions Scaramucci stands to make from his ownership stake in Skybridge, his investment firm. The financial forms are not classified, so leaking them is not a felony.
“Then tonight, for instance, Scaramucci tweeting about [the leak of] his financial disclosures, well that actually was not classified information. It’s not a classified information leak. It’s information that’s filed with the Office of Government Ethics, and that’s not classified.”
Don Lemon also asked Ryan Lizza whether there was any other way to interpret that tweet. Lizza said no way.
“No, there’s no other interpretation. I can tell you with a hundred percent certainly that Anthony Scaramucci believes this. And that was exactly the intention when he tweeted this.”
Given their history, it makes sense. Scaramucci was an adviser to Donald Trump’s campaign and expected a job in the White House much sooner. Reince Priebus kept blocking him because he wanted more establishment Republicans on board, like the recently ousted Sean Spicer. The two of them have been at odds for months.
The people running the GOP — Until this year Priebus was the RNC Chair — want their people in the Oval Office to hold their erratic president in check. The leaks keep happening because the two camps hate each other. Since Donald Trump prefers his own family and associates, they’ll likely wear Priebus’ people down as time goes on.
As Keith Boykin pointed out, the GOP’s president runs the White House like he runs his family business. He promoted himself as a businessman who can get things done. But he’s never gone public, had a board, or been held accountable to anyone. Boykin even strongly implied that Team Trump is run like the mob.
“And that is the way the White House is functioning. As though Donald Trump is running a family-owned business. I don’t even want to use the M-word but it’s almost like it’s a criminal enterprise going on. The way that the president is behaving and his staff are behaving is not in a professional business manner. And the CEO of any company would be ashamed of that behavior.”
Margaret Hoover also chimed in and said Trump administration needs to be doing “the business of government,” not spending “all their time and energy pulling their knives out of each other.”
“It is an utter waste of their time, of their appointment, of the American people’s tax dollars, this is deplorable behavior at the highest levels of the American government.”
She and her former colleague Scott Jennings agreed the kind of dysfunctional behavior we see in Donald Trump’s White House never would have been tolerated by their former boss, President George W. Bush. And you know we’re in a scary place when George W. Bush starts looking good to us.
CNN: Anthony Scaramucci accuses Reince Priebus of leaking his financials, threatens to call the FBI.
Anthony Scarmucci denies accusing Reince Priebus.
When Axios and other news outlets started running the story, Anthony Scaramucci deleted the tweet. He then sent out another one claiming he wasn’t accusing Reince Priebus, he was just sending out a warning.
“Wrong!” He chirpily declared. “Tweet was public notice to leakers that all Sr Adm officials are helping to end illegal leaks.” Yet he still stuck in Priebus’ Twitter handle, @Reince45, so we’ll keep associating him with the White House leaks.
Featured image: Composite with video screen grab via CNN (Anthony Scaramucci), photo CC By-SA 2012 Tim Evanson via Flickr (White House), and photo CC0 Public Domain George Hodan via Public Domain Pictures.