White House Director of Communications Anthony Scaramucci called into CNN’s “New Day” for an all-encompassing interview Thursday morning.
Read the full transcript:
ALISYN CAMEROTA: Ryan [Lizza, “The New Yorker” Washington Correspondent], so sorry to interrupt you right now. If you would stand by for a second that would be great because we actually have Anthony Scaramucci on the phone.
CHRIS CUOMO: Right, so, let’s get him. White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci joins us this morning. Anthony Scaramucci, can you hear us?
SCARAMUCCI: >> Yes. So, when i was speaking to you last night Ryan, I said it was unpatriotic that you would weren’t telling me who the leakers were. I was on a plane landing in New York, I have to go visit my mom, and so you may have caught it the wrong way. I was teasing you and it was sarcastic. It was one Italian to another, it wasn’t me trying to get you to say, if you could give me some sense for where they are, because I have a responsibility to the President of the United States –
CUOMO: Anthony –
SCARAMUCCI: when you said you didn’t, I totally respect your journalism and your integrity.
CUOMO: Anthony, hold on Anthony, I just want to make sure – I don’t know if Ryan can hear you.
RYAN LIZZA: I can.
CUOMO: But just in case, it did go out over the air so he heard what you meant when you were talking to him about being unpatriotic. Let’s just reset us at zero here. What’s going on in your perspective?
SCARAMUCCI: I want to reset at zero, but I also want you to know I just spent about 15 minutes on the phone talking with the President of the United States who has given me his full support and his full blessing, and I’m going to read you something, Chris, and you bear with me. And the President also told me, if you’re nice to me in this segment, he’ll let me come back on the show, is that cool? So why don’t you let me talk for a little bit and then you can ask me questions. But this is super, super important to the country, now, whether you agree with the President or you disagree with the President, you have to love the institution of the presidency. You have to love the office and you have to love our country and what is going on right now, I’ve done a major amount of work over the last five days. I’ve interviewed most of the assistants to the President. I’ve interviewed most of the people in the communications team in the White House and what the President and I would like to tell everybody, we have a very, very good idea of who the leakers are, who the senior leakers are in the White House. We’ll get to that in a second. What I also want to say is that we are working together, the President and myself and other members of his team and law enforcement to undercut and undercover – or out, if you will – the leakers in the entire country. As the President would say in his own words, the White House leakers are small potatoes. I’ll talk to you about a few leaks that happened last night that I find reprehensible. But the White House leaks are small potatoes relative to things that are going on with leaking things about Syria or North Korea or leaking things about Iraq. Those are the types of leaks that are so treasonous that 150 years ago people would have actually been hung for those types of leaks. So, the President brought me in, he knows I’m his friend first, Chris. You’re from New York, I’m from New York, the President is from New York. We had dinner last night. I sat next to the First Lady. I love the President. I’ve said that. I know the press wants to ridicule me for saying it six times from the podium. But we started out as friends. I am not a politician. I’m an American businessman and entrepreneur that have built two businesses and I try to play it straight with people. The President is trying to play it straight with people which is why he has 140 or 125 social media followers because they want to hear it straight from the President. And I said to the President this morning, I can’t afford to be a sycophant to you, sir. I have to talk to you straight as a friend so I can help you with this problem. And so what I want to say to you is I understand the law. I know that there was a public disclosure mechanism in my financial forms. What I’m upset about is the process and the junk pool, the dirty pool, Chris, in terms of the way this stuff is being done, and the leaking won’t stop. I can’t have a couple of friends up from “Fox & Friends” and Sean Hannity, who is one of my closest friends, to dinner with the President and his First Lady without it being leaked in seven minutes. It’s absolutely completely and totally reprehensible. As you know from the Italian expression, the fish stinks from the head down. What I can tell you two fish that don’t stink, okay, and that’s me and the President. I don’t like the activity that’s going on in the White House. I don’t like what they’re doing to my friend. I don’t like what they’re doing to the President of the United States or their fellow colleagues in the West Wing. If you want to talk about the Chief of Staff, we have had odds. We have had differences. When I said we were brothers from the podium, that’s because we’re rough on each other, some brothers are like Cain and Abel, other brothers can fight with each other and get along. I don’t know if this is repairable or not, that will be up to the President, but he’s the Chief of Staff. He’s responsible for understanding and uncovering and helping me do that inside the White House, which is why I put that tweet out last night. When the journalists who actually know who the leakers are – like Ryan Lizza – they know the leakers. Jonathan Swan at Axios – these guys know who the leakers are. I respect them for not telling me because I understand and respect journalistic integrity. However, when I put out a tweet and I put Reince’s name in a tweet, they’re all making the assumption that it’s him because journalists know who the leakers are. So if reince wants to explain that he’s not a leaker, let him do that. Let me tell you something about myself. I am a straight shooter and I’ll go right to the heart of the matter. Okay, so I’m done talking. You can ask me questions. But be nice on this segment, Chris, because this is a very serious matter of interest to all of America.
CUOMO: Well, Anthony, look, I know when you say be nice, you’re in part joking, because you know the job is to be fair. So let’s be fair in this situation and try and get a sense of what’s going on.
SCARAMUCCI: It’s that nuance, Chris, sometimes hard to pick it up on Twitter.
CUOMO: Ryan heard it. He accepts what you said.
SCARAMUCCI: Be fair. Be fair, Chris. The truth of the matter is, I’m used to all different types of questions. I’m used to meanness. It doesn’t matter to me. I’m here to play it straight for the American people and to protect my friend who is the President of the United States. Go ahead.
CUOMO: Understood, and Alisyn and I have felt the bite of personal comments from power as well, but we still do the job and we do it the right way because that’s what matters more. So let’s do that right now instead of talking about doing it.
SCARAMUCCI: Go ahead.
CUOMO: These tweets seem to indicate a problem that didn’t start today. And I’m not talking about the leaking. It is well known, Anthony Scaramucci, that Reince Priebus was against you getting a job in the administration. You’ve talked about it privately with reporters. He has denied it, but there are tons of reports that that denial is hollow. And when you named him in the tweet, it seems to call that. Where is your head on that situation, what do you believe the reality to be? Because it seems much more like Cain and Abel than it does brothers who can get along.
SCARAMUCCI: Here’s what I believe: after running two reasonably successful companies and one which the entire world knows I’m about to sell for $180 million dollars. Here is what I know, when you’re running a successful company or an organization, you can take this human equation to the bank: underconfidence plus insecurity always equals paranoia and backstabbing. And so what you have to do as a manager is you have to go through the process and assist them and figure out where the backstabbing is coming from. That will lead you to the people that are insecure or underconfident. If you can’t bolster them and make them better, then you have to remove them from the process because then it becomes addition by subtraction. That’s what i know.
SCARAMUCCI: So I don’t want to talk about anybody specifically because we’re on a live television wire, but the people know. The journalists know. You know, the young kids in the coms team are taking a lot of heat from me right now. They know, Chris. The people know. You know who knows? The President of the United States. The President of the United States, again, whether you guys like the guy, you dislike the guy, he’s the smartest person that I’ve ever worked for. Okay so let “Vanity Fair” write about that. I honestly don’t care. He has intuition, he has judgment and he has a temperament in a way that I’ve never seen. Last night we were having dinner, I told his wife, I looked over to the First Lady and I said, I forgot how much fun I used to have when I hung out with him on the campaign trail. He’s a very interesting and very unique guy. There are people inside the administration that think it is their job to save America from this President. That is not their job. Their job is to inject this President into America so that he can explain his views properly and his policies so that we can transform America and drain the swamp and make the system fairer for the middle and lower income people.
CUOMO: Look, I understand that, anthony –
SCARAMUCCI: it is not their job from the establishment through calcification to sit there and try to withhold the president, to rein him in or do things to him that will slow down his agenda. That’s not their job.
CUOMO: Let’s talk about what we know a little bit. One is, yes, the President should be focused on making the lives of Americans better. It’s what he promised. It’s what the country needs. Understood. Two, leaks happen, especially in political situations. There are different types of leaks. Some are about national security–they can be dangerous, they have to be policed. Understood. Most are not that–
SCARAMUCCI: I agree with that.
CUOMO: – most are people surrounding a person in power who want to explain policy, who want to feed journalism, who have a lot of positive and benevolent intentions when they do so. Three, this White House leaks more than any I have ever been in contact with. And I think that they’re –
SCARAMUCCI: It’s ridiculous.
CUOMO: –but I don’t know if I’d use the word ridiculous because I think that a lot of the leaks–
SCARAMUCCI: Okay let me put it this way. How is this, chris? Unprofessional. You became a verbal proofreader overnight. How is unprofessional?
CUOMO: Listen, I’m careful about my words because they matter, Anthony. Here is what I’m saying. I got your point. I just want to clarify because I have a question.
SCARAMUCCI: There are good leaks and bad leaks. I’m really focused on the bad leaks. I know there’s always going to be –
CUOMO: Well, but you seem to be focused on both.
SCARAMUCCI: I’m focused on leaks that hurt the institution of the President and the President himself. I understand we have to leak things to reporters to help shape policy or try to balloon things or do tests on ideas or people for different jobs. I’m talking about nefarious, unnecessary, backstabbing, palace intrigue-like leaks. That’s what I’m talking about.
CUOMO: Well, and I understand why personally and politically that would be a problem, but the other concern with this –
SCARAMUCCI: Those are the leaks the President and I are working together on to try to stop. I’m sorry?
CUOMO: –I understand why that would be a personal incentive for you. I get it. But what I’m saying is, it does seem as though the President has used leaks as a distraction from the substance and content of the investigation with Russia and that probe specifically, that he wants people to focus on where the information comes from let alone than the information itself.
SCARAMUCCI: Here we go again. Here we go again. I’ll say to the American people today. I’ll say it tomorrow and I’ll say it until the investigation ends. And I said it to you a couple weeks ago. I’ll sit with you when the investigation is over and all these people are exonerated, I’ll come and sit on the couch or the chair by you and we’ll talk about that. I believe, as does the President, that there’s nothing to the investigation. So, we want to go back to the Russian investigation on this segment, we can do that, but it’s just not true. It’s just not true. You’re saying we’re using leaks –
CUOMO: No, I’m bringing it up because it’s relevant, Anthony, because that’s when leaks –
SCARAMUCCI: – russian investigation and all this nonsense –
CUOMO: – but that’s why the president brought them up in the first place.
SCARAMUCCI: I think it’s a bigger problem that that, Chris.
CUOMO: it maybe to you. I’m just saying that the concern journa–
SCARAMUCCI: Let’s try on CNN for like maybe five minutes not to focus on the Russia investigation.
CUOMO: Unfair. Unfair, Anthony. Anthony, I brought you on this show this morning to give you a chance to clarify something that people were beating you over the head with because I wasn’t sure it was fair.
SCARAMUCCI: Alright, for five minutes let’s not go to Russia, why don’t we go to Russia at the end of the segment. Let’s get the gun on the bird – and let’s talk about what’s going on.
CUOMO: Contextually, you said you want to be straight. You said you want to do the job the right way.
SCARAMUCCI: – and let’s talk about what’s going on inside the White House, and going on inside these departments and inside the intergovernmental agencies, that we need to stop because we’re American citizens –
SCARAMUCCI: – and the people that are working in those jobs have to honor those jobs –
CUOMO: Fine, fine.
SCARAMUCCI: – and they have to honor the position they have. Like i said about the West Wing, if there’s 300 people working there and there’s 300 million people the country, you’re one in a million. Why don’t you honor the job? You remember Joe Paterno? What would he say? Act like you’ve been there before. Act with honor and dignity and respect and hold the confidence of the presidency and his office. Why don’t we do that? And if you want to leak something, you can have a new Director of Communications and if it’s a leak that’s going to help the presidency, why don’t we do that.
CUOMO: Understood and that’s something you have to police politically.
SCARAMUCCI: A couple more minutes without russia and then ask a few more questions, but we can go to russia at the end of the segment. Go ahead.
CUOMO: We both know I’m going to ask what I think is important and we both know I have trouble taking direction. So, the reason I brought up Russia –
SCARAMUCCI: We know that. we know that from our hometown.
CUOMO: The reason that i brought up russia was because contextually that’s when the president started banging on leaks because he didn’t like that information was coming out about it, he didn’t like the implications of it politically. So he wanted to focus on the leaks instead of the substance. i’m saying journalistically that is a concern. Politically, I get why you want to police message within your house, I get it.
SCARAMUCCI: Well, let me push back on that. I didn’t study that like Quincy. I wasn’t a coroner studying that. Remember the Jack Klugman show?