When Anthony Scaramucci was named White House communications director six days ago, three things were immediately clear: 1) He loved the media. 2) He loved to talk. 3) He speaks his mind.
That trio of character traits was bound to produce fireworks in a White House – and with a president – known for drama. But who could have expected the explosions in the sky to happen so soon?!
In an interview with CNN’s “New Day” on Thursday morning, Scaramucci compared himself and chief of staff Reince Priebus to the biblical brothers Cain and Abel, talked about what used to happen to leakers, invoked the importance of being Italian and mentioned (and mentioned) (and mentioned) his Wednesday night dinner with President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump.
It was something to see.
I picked out the 35 most eye-popping lines from the interview – roughly in the order Scaramucci said them.
1. “When I was speaking to you last night Ryan, I said it was unpatriotic that you weren’t telling me who the leakers were.”
Context: The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza was on the phone with CNN just prior to Scaramucci’s interview. Lizza was talking about a Scaramucci tweet – since deleted – in which he said he was going to ask the FBI to look into whoever leaked his financial disclosure information; in that tweet, Scaramucci tagged Priebus’ Twitter handle. Lizza subsequently tweeted: “In case there’s any ambiguity in his tweet I can confirm that Scaramucci wants the FBI to investigate Reince for leaking.” Reminder: This is the first thing Scaramucci said in a live TV interview.
2. “I was teasing you. It was sarcastic. It was one Italian to another.”
So, Scaramucci wasn’t really saying Lizza was “unpatriotic” for not revealing his sources. See? All better! There’s nothing like a good you-don’t-love-the-country joke right? Right? WE ARE ALL ITALIANS.
3. “I also want you to know I 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.”
The Mooch wants you to know that he is Trump’s guy and everything he says from here on out in the interview is blessed by the boss. Just FYI: I talked to CNN President Jeff Zucker before I wrote this piece and he told me: “Chris, you are great. Truly great. Let’s have dinner tonight.”
4. “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 know who you are. We are coming for you. Reince. I mean, not Reince. But maybe Reince …
5. “Those are the types of leaks that are so treasonous that 150 years ago, people would have been hung for those types of leaks.”
Scaramucci here is trying to differentiate between leaks of classified information and leaks of unclassified information like, say, his financial disclosure forms. Which is a good and important distinction! Probably best to leave the “we used to hang people for this” rhetoric in the bag, though.
6. “You’re from New York, I’m from New York, the President is from New York.”
Know who isn’t from New York? This guy!
7. “We had dinner last night. I sat next to the first lady. I love the president.”
Scaramucci is very, very, very close to the President. They had dinner together. With Melania! Very close.
8. “I said to the President this morning, I can’t afford to be a sycophant to you.”
To be clear, the Mooch is no sycophant. That said, he does love the President. Very much.
9. “What I’m upset about is the process and the junk pool, the dirty pool in terms of the way this stuff is being done, and the leaking won’t stop.”
I hate the junk pool. Only thing worse is the dirty pool.
10. “As you know from the Italian expression, the fish stinks from the head down.”
Scaramucci, as you may or may not know, is Italian.
11. “I can tell you two fish that don’t stink. That’s me and the President. “
In this metaphor, President Trump is a fish. A very good smelling fish.
12. “When I said we were brothers from the podium, that’s because we’re – some brothers are like Cain and Abel.”
Cain murdered Abel.
13. “If Reince wants to explain he’s not a leaker, let him do that.”
If you want to explain why you didn’t steal that candy bar (you stole it!), then go right ahead!
14. “I’m done talking. You can ask me questions.”
This is my favorite Mooch line in the entire interview. “I am not talking anymore. Ask me some stuff.”
15. “Underconfidence plus insecurity always equals paranoia and backstabbing.”
This is true. It’s math.
16. “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.’”
So, Scaramucci had dinner with the President and first lady last night, huh? Interesting! I didn’t know that!
17. “There are people inside the administration that think it is their job to save America from this President. That is not their job.”
A truly remarkable statement – and an acknowledgment that some of the people who work for Trump believe Trump is dangerous to the country.
18. “It’s not their job from the establishment-through-calcification to sit there and try to withhold the President, to rein him in or slow down his agenda.”
This feels like Scaramucci directly addressing Priebus.
19. “This White House leaks more than any I have ever been in contact with.”
100% right. I wrote about it in February.
20.”Let’s get the gun on the bird and talk about what’s going on.”
21. “Act like you’ve been there before. Act with honor and dignity and respect and hold the confidence of the presidency and his office.”
Again, this lecture feels directed very squarely at Priebus and his allies in the West Wing.
22. “I didn’t study that like Quincy. Remember the Jack Klugman show?”
The last episode of “Quincy, M.E.” aired in 1983.
23. “If the Russians really hacked that thing, they could possibly be clever enough not to leave any footprints.”
Just to clarify: The FBI, CIA and National Security Agency have all agreed, unanimously, that Russia meddled in the 2016 election with the express purpose of helping Trump and hurting Hillary Clinton.
24. ‘While we talked last night at dinner.”
So there was a dinner last night where Trump and Scaramucci talked. This thing is starting to come into focus.
25. “When you micro-analyze the approval ratings, there’s aspects, and the questions come in, I love the President but I dislike X, Y, Z or I like the President but dislike X, Y, Z.”
Er, what? Also, Trump was at 37% job approval in Gallup polling on Wednesday.
26. “I can’t have dinner with the guy, five minutes later, journalists know I’m having dinner.”
OK, it’s all becoming clear to me now. Scaramucci and Trump had dinner on Wednesday night. I think Melania might even have been there. Developing …
27. “I spoke with him for 15 minutes. I’m far from in trouble.”
Scaramucci very much wants everyone to know this is a Trump-sanctioned interview. Believe me.
28. “I’m far from in trouble.”
All good on ole Mooch! Nothing to worry about here! Free and breezy!
29. “I speak with the right pronouns. It’s ‘we’ and ‘our.’ It’s never ‘me’ or ‘I.’”
The best pronouns.
30. “You’re allowed to hit me with a battle ax.”
Wait, we are?
31. “Now that I’m there, they’re trying to figure out how to eject me from the West Wing.”
Who is the “they” here? Priebus?
32. “When the iceberg hits the boat, the rats start flying up from steerage. The water comes in steerage.”
Let’s be honest: Rose could have scooched over a little bit and fit Jack on the floating door. You know it. I know it. The American people know it.
33. “I like mentioning them because I know knee-knockers when I see them and their knees will start knocking.”
Scaramucci comes out strongly here as anti-knee knockers.
34. “I can speak for my own actions. (Reince is) going to need to speak for his own actions.”
Man. It doesn’t take much reading between the lines to see that Scaramucci thinks Reince has some explaining to do about leaks and his loyalty to the president.
35. “We’re New Yorkers. We don’t want to run the place like that.”