Democracy Dies in Darkness

The Fix | Analysis

Anthony Scaramucci’s vulgar New Yorker interview is beyond words

By Aaron Blake

July 27, 2017 at 5:56 PM

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Newly appointed White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci is trying to "undercut" leaks coming out of the divided camps within the Trump administration, and turned his ire on chief of staff Reince Priebus on July 27. (Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post)

The Trump administration is one long exercise in desensitization. It has become difficult to be shocked by much of anything that happens.

That said, a just-published interview between new White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci and the New Yorker's Ryan Lizza is crazy. It's vulgar, vindictive and volatile. Scaramucci muses about killing people. He talks about his new White House colleagues performing sex acts upon themselves (metaphorically, of course).

It's the kind of interview you expect from someone who is leaving their job in a blaze of glory — not someone who just accepted a job in an already embattled White House.

Here are five key parts:

1. He had choice words for Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, whom he accuses of leaking and blocking him from joining the White House

“Reince Priebus — if you want to leak something — he’ll be asked to resign very shortly. … Reince is a fucking paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoiac.” He then did a Priebus imitation: " ‘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.’ ”

2. He admitted, just minutes before doing it, that he was about to tweet at Priebus to suggest he was a leaker

“Yeah, let me go, though, because I’ve gotta start tweeting some shit to make this guy crazy.” Minutes later, he tweeted this. And then on Thursday morning, he bizarrely denied it was accusing Priebus of being a leaker.

3. He attacked Trump's other chief adviser, Stephen K. Bannon, using vulgar sexual imagery

“I’m not Steve Bannon, I’m not trying to suck my own cock,” he said. “I’m not trying to build my own brand off the fucking strength of the president. I’m here to serve the country.”

4. He asks Lizza repeatedly who leaked the fact that he and President Trump were having dinner with Sean Hannity. He even pleads with him as a “patriot” and threatens to fire people.

“You’re an American citizen, this is a major catastrophe for the American country,” Scaramucci says. “So I’m asking you as an American patriot to give me a sense of who leaked it.” He promises to fire everyone if Lizza doesn't tell him: “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.” And: “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.”

5. He also muses about killing 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.”

After the article published, Scaramucci tweeted about his “colorful language,” but made no apology.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders gave Scaramucci, her boss, a thumbs-up for his treatment of Priebus earlier Thursday, saying Trump “likes that type competition and encourages it.” Scaramucci, to be clear, had just suggested that Priebus had committed a felony by leaking Scaramucci's personal financial disclosure. (It turns out it was a publicly available document. Oops.)

We'll see what happens Friday, but if the president is signing off on this kind of thing, we have entered a completely new phase in the White House's descent into chaos.

This post has been updated. 

President Trump on Friday dismissed his embattled chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon, an architect of his 2016 general election victory, in a major White House shake-up that follows a week of racial unrest, according to multiple administration officials. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Stephen Miller, President Trumps senior policy adviser, got into a tense exchange on Aug. 2 with CNN reporter Jim Acosta (not pictured) about immigration. (Susan Walsh/AP)
Christopher A. Wray testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on July 12 about his nomination to be director of the FBI. The U.S. Senate confirmed Wray on Aug. 1. (Michael Reynolds/European Pressphoto Agency)
(Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
President Trump ousted White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, second from left, and replaced him with Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly, second from right, in a major shake-up designed to bring order and military precision to a West Wing beset for six straight months by chaos, infighting and few tangible accomplishments. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
The short-lived communications director Anthony Scaramucci, a flashy New York financier had been trying to oust White House chief of staff Reince Priebus in a foul-mouthed campaign. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)
Jared Kushner, President Trumps senior adviser and son-in-law, detailed meetings he had with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign and transition period including one set up by Donald Trump Jr. with a Russian lawyer but denied any improper contacts or collusion in testimony to a congressional panel July 24. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
White House press secretary Sean Spicer resigned July 21 after the appointment of wealthy financier Anthony Scaramucci as White House communications director. Scaramucci previously had tense relationships with both Spicer and chief of staff Reince Priebus. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)
On June 19, Kushner gave a rare public speech about how the Trump administration is working to modernize the governments antiquated technology. Almost instantly, his voice became a topic of discussion and mockery. On Twitter, it was as if some had expected Trumps son-in-law and senior adviser to channel his inner James Earl Jones, but they heard Michael Cera instead. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
On June 5, deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said: The presidents power to assert executive privilege is very well established. However, to facilitate a swift and thorough examination of the facts sought by the Senate Intelligence Committee, President Trump will not assert executive privilege regarding James B. Comeys scheduled testimony. (Michael Reynolds/European Pressphoto Agency)
On May 24, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos refused to say whether she would block federal money from going to private schools that discriminate against LGBT students, explaining that she believes states should have the flexibility to design voucher programs and that parents should be able to choose schools that best fit their childrens needs. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Attorney General Jeff Sessions overturned the policy of former attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr. and directed his federal prosecutors on May 11 to charge defendants with the most serious, provable crimes carrying the most severe penalties. (Sam Owens/AP)
On May 8, former acting attorney general Sally Yates testified that she had warned White House counsel Don McGahn in late January about Michael Flynn lying about his contacts with Russia and potentially being compromised weeks before the situation blew up publicly and Flynn was forced to resign as national security adviser. The Post found that President Barack Obama also warned Trump in their post-election meeting against hiring Flynn, a former Obama appointee. During a briefing that day, White House press secretary Sean Spicer suggested that Obamas advice was taken with a grain of salt because Flynn had excoriated Obama during the 2016 campaign. Spicer wasnt quite so blunt, but it was clear that Obamas comments were at least somewhat dismissed as the complaints of a loser. (Shawn Thew/European Pressphoto Agency)
Ivanka Trump, left, was booed at a W20 Summit panel in Berlin after calling her father a tremendous champion of supporting families. She attended the event with International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde, center, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. (Markus Schreiber/AP)
Vice President Pence warned North Korea on April 17 that it could be in for the same treatment as Syria and Afghanistan both of which the Trump administration has bombed this month if it continues with its nuclear program. The stark warning, delivered in Seoul after the vice president went to the military demarcation that separates the two Koreas, could revive speculation that the White House is considering military action against the regime in Pyongyang. (Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters)
In criticizing Syrian President Bashar al-Assads alleged use of chemical weapons, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said April 11 that even Adolf Hitler did not sink to that level of warfare, despite Hitlers use of gas chambers to kill millions of Jews. When given the chance to clarify his comment uttered during the Jewish holiday of Passover Spicer then said that Hitler took Jews into the Holocaust center but that Hitler was not using the gas on his own people in the same way that Assad is doing. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrived in Russia on April 11 to urge Moscow to back away from the Syrian government and pave the way for the countrys president to transition out of power. Tillersons trip, following the previous weeks U.S. missile strikes on Syria, marks the most direct diplomatic effort by the Trump administration to seek an end to Syrias civil war. (Maxim Shemetov/Reuters)
President Trumps son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, flew to Iraq with the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. (not pictured) on April. 3. Kushners travel plans initially were revealed the previous day by a Trump administration official who said Kushner wanted to see the situation there for himself and show support for Baghdads government. (Defense Department/Reuters)
Combative White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon has been known to butt heads with President Trumps son-in-law, Jared Kushner, a senior adviser dubbed the Trump whisperer. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
On March 31, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson ratcheted up pressure on NATO allies to increase their defense spending, despite pushback from Germanys top diplomat over President Trumps determination to make members of the Western military alliance boost their military budgets. Addressing a meeting of NATOs 28 foreign ministers, Tillerson said he wanted alliance leaders to agree at a May summit to come up with concrete plans by the end of the year to meet budget guidelines. As President Trump has made clear, it is no longer sustainable for the U.S. to maintain a disproportionate share of NATOs defense expenditures, Tillerson told the foreign ministers. Allies must increase defense spending. The effort met with resistance from German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, who said the push from Washington was unrealistic and based on a mistaken interpretation of the spending targets, which are not binding. Germany is NATOs largest economy after the United States but it lags far behind in its defense spending. (Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images)
The first daughter announced March 29 that she will serve as an unpaid employee in the White House, saying that she had heard the concerns some have with my advising the president in my personal capacity. She added that she has been working in good faith with the White House counsel and my personal counsel to address the unprecedented nature of my role. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)
On March 28, Spicer got testy in an exchange with American Urban Radio Networks reporter April Ryan after Ryan announced a premise that Spicer disagreed with: that the White House has a Russia issue to deal with. By the end, Spicer accused Ryan of pushing her own agenda and even instructed her not to shake her head at him. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
On March 27, White House press secretary Sean Spicer announced a new office to be led by Jared Kushner. The White House Office of American Innovation will operate as its own nimble power center within the West Wing and will report directly to Trump. Viewed internally as a SWAT team of strategic consultants, the office will be staffed by former business executives and is designed to infuse fresh thinking into Washington, float above the daily political grind and create a lasting legacy for a president still searching for signature achievements. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
On March 16, things got very contentious in the White House briefing room as press secretary Sean Spicer was confronted with the bipartisan doubts of congressional leaders about President Trumps claims that President Barack Obama wiretapped him. At one point, Spicer spent several minutes reading through a list of reports that he felt bolstered Trumps claim. Journalists, meanwhile, pushed back on the evidence Spicer provided, none of which addressed Trumps central claim that Obama was behind the alleged surveillance of Trump Tower and some of which came from dubious and/or ideologically tinged individuals such as Sean Hannity. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
On March 6, Ben Carson compared slaves to immigrants seeking a better life in his first official address as Housing and Urban Development secretary, setting off an uproar on social media. Thats what America is about. A land of dreams and opportunity. There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships, worked even longer, even harder for less, said Carson, speaking extemporaneously as he paced the room with a microphone. But they, too, had a dream that one day their sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, great-grandsons, great-granddaughters might pursue prosperity and happiness in this land. (Susan Walsh/AP)
On March 6, Carson said the brain was incapable of forgetting and could be electrically stimulated into perfect recall a statement that, even though made by one of the most famous former neurosurgeons alive, was far more fiction than science. He described the brains surprising power as a way to show the audience that they were more capable than they believed. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
On March 2, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he would recuse himself from investigations related to the 2016 presidential campaign, which would include any Russian interference in the electoral process. Speaking at a hastily called news conference at the Justice Department, Sessions said he was following the recommendation of department ethics officials after an evaluation of the rules and cases in which he might have a conflict. The announcement came a day after The Washington Post revealed that Sessions twice met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the campaign and did not disclose that to the Senate Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearing in January. (Shawn Thew/European Pressphoto Agency)
On Feb. 27, leaders from the nations historically black colleges and universities, or HBCUs, met with administration officials to share expert insights on policy issues impacting their individual campuses. Before that meeting, President Trump greeted the chancellors and presidents in the Oval Office. A photo showing White House adviser Kellyanne Conways casual posture while sitting on an Oval Office couch during the meeting quickly caused controversy on social media. Conway wrote in emails to The Washington Post that she was asked to snap pictures of Trump with the educators to chronicle this significant event. She knelt on a couch to snap a photo of the group. I certainly meant no disrespect, I didnt mean to have my feet on the couch, she said during an appearance on Lou Dobbs Tonight. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)
Many advocates of historically black colleges and universities were apoplectic after Education Secretary Betsy DeVos called the group of schools forged at the height of racial segregation pioneers of school choice. DeVos issued a statement Feb. 27 after a meeting with HBCU leaders, praising their schools for identifying a system that wasnt working and taking it upon themselves to provide the solution from the outset of their founding. (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)
White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, right, and presidential adviser Stephen K. Bannon attend the Conservative Political Action Conference on Feb. 23 in Washington. American Conservative Union Chairman Matt Schlapp posed a question to both men: What does the media keep getting wrong about this Trump phenomena and whats happening out there in the country? And is there any hope that this changes? I think theres hope that its going to change. I mean we we sit here every day and and the president pumps out all of this work and and the executive orders and the punching through of the promises that he made to the American people. So were hoping that the media would catch up eventually, Priebus said. Bannon added: Theyre corporatist, globalist media that are adamantly opposed adamantly opposed to an economic nationalist agenda like Donald Trump has. ... Heres the only heres why its going to get worse: Because hes going to continue to press his agenda. And as economic conditions get better, as more jobs get better, theyre going to continue to fight. If you think theyre going to give you your country back without a fight, you are sadly mistaken. Every day every day, it is going to be a fight. (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)
Michael Flynn, the national security adviser to President Trump, resigned Feb. 13 over revelations about his potentially illegal contacts with the Russian ambassador to the United States and his misleading statements about the matter to senior Trump administration officials. Flynn stepped down amid mounting pressure on the Trump administration to account for its false statements about Flynns conduct after The Washington Post reported that the Justice Department had warned the White House that Flynn had so mischaracterized his communications with the Russian diplomat that he might be vulnerable to blackmail by Moscow. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)
Ivanka Trumps products werent always the hottest items online. In January, for instance, the first daughters fashion line ranked No. 550 based on the number of orders from Lyst, the biggest fashion e-commerce website in the world, according to Forbes. That changed dramatically the following month. Sales of Trumps products skyrocketed in early February, making her Lysts 11th most popular brand. The biggest spike, according to Lyst, came Feb. 9, when sales jumped by 219 percent from the day before. On Feb. 9, Kellyanne Conway promoted Trumps clothing and jewelry line on Fox Friends. Go buy Ivankas stuff, is what I would tell you, Conway said. Im going to give a free commercial here. Go buy it today, everybody. And viewers did, apparently. The endorsement appeared to violate a key ethics rule barring federal employees from using their public office to endorse products. The White House reaction was a rare acknowledgment of an ethical misstep. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)
Manigault, who is now a communications official in the Trump administration, got into a heated argument with a White House reporter just steps from the Oval Office in February, according to witnesses. The reporter, April Ryan, said Manigault physically intimidated her in a manner that could have warranted intervention by the Secret Service. Ryan also said Manigault made verbal threats, including the assertion that Ryan was among several journalists on whom Trump officials had collected dossiers of negative information. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
During a Feb. 2 interview with MSNBCs Chris Matthews, the counselor to the president defended Trumps travel ban related to seven majority-Muslim countries. At one point, Kellyanne Conway made a reference to two Iraqi refugees whom she described as the masterminds behind the Bowling Green massacre. Most people dont know that because it didnt get covered, Conway said. The Bowling Green massacre didnt get covered because it didnt happen. There has never been a terrorist attack in Bowling Green, Ky., carried out by Iraqi refugees or anyone else. (Evan Vucci/AP)
On Jan. 22, Kellyanne Conway appeared on Meet the Press to discuss White House press secretary Sean Spicer and his easily disproved claims about the size of President Trumps inauguration crowd. After some tense back and forth with host Chuck Todd, Conway offered this: Dont be so overly dramatic about it, Chuck. Youre saying its a falsehood, and theyre giving our press secretary, Sean Spicer, gave alternative facts to that. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Photo Gallery: Members of President Trump’s administration: Moments that made headlines

Aaron Blake is senior political reporter for The Fix.

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