Like Dorothy after bonking her head in that storm, reporters on Thursday found themselves in what seemed like an alternate universe. This was a world where Anthony “the Mooch” Scaramucci hadn’t flamed out as White House communications director after a mere 10 days (or 11, as he kept insisting), one where the glint of the aviator sunglasses of the fast-talking former Wall Streeter could still be spotted daily along Pennsylvania Avenue.
It wasn’t Oz, but rather the National Press Club, where Scaramucci was doing all the things he would still be doing had he not been fired in spectacular fashion: defending Trump and his policies, dropping quotable one-liners, and boasting … about himself. As one of the club’s “Newsmakers” speakers, the Mooch tried to live up to his billing, offering up a signature barrage of so. many. thoughts.
For starters, he had much to say about his former colleagues and inside-the-White-House rivals. Steve Bannon, the now-also-exiled Trump adviser, “looks like a hobo but talks like a Wall Street banker,” he said. And although he tries to paint himself as an outsider, Scaramucci said, Bannon’s a “cuck of the system.” And how’s this for damning a guy with the faintest of praise? Aside from all the white nationalism stuff, “he’s a smart guy.”
What about John Kelly, the chief of staff who officially gave him the boot? “I spent four minutes with him, and three-and-a-half of that was him firing me, and then there was like 15 seconds of handshake,” he said but called his dismissal “a mistake” that made Kelly look “tough and strong … for, like, a day.”
Internecine fighting? It was as if the Mooch had never left.
And just as he did during his 10 days of glory — wait, make that 11 days, as he’d remind you — Scaramucci continued his defense of Trump against all the haters.
But just as when he was a White House aide, it was never only about Trump — the Mooch reserved his best spin for himself. The boasts were many and varied. “I am more well-read than you might think”; “I am a defender of the First Amendment.”
His upcoming book, he promises, is going to be “fun” and full of “funny stories.” (He ran some of the stories by the president “to make sure he was cool with me writing about them.”) A chapter in it titled “The Twelfth Day” will be devoted to how he picked himself up after becoming a late-night comics’ punchline — and it will be “instructive for kids,” he said. Because really, what kid doesn’t need to know what to do after their expletive-filled conversation with a New Yorker reporter gets them fired from the White House?
Scaramucci paused only briefly for questions, his words rolling out faster than a stock ticker. He dispensed advice (“there’s no whining in life”) and a few head-scratchers (in response to a question about EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s scandals, he referred to a “Faustian, double-edged-sword situation”). He pronounced “France” as “Frahhnce.”
And because in this alternative universe, rapper Kanye West is apparently also a thing, that subject kept coming up. Earlier that morning, gossip website the Blast reported that Scaramucci and Kanye had been texting during the rapper’s recent conservative Twitter rants, identifying the former White House aide as the “Anthony” in a screen-grab of a text-message chain that Kanye posted to Twitter.
Scaramucci joked about their relationship at his Press Club talk. “I’m tweeting for Kanye now,” he said, giving his own Twitter handle as “@kanye.”
And when a reporter asked if he was indeed on a text with Yeezy, the Mooch still sounded an awful lot like a White House spin guy: “I can’t confirm or deny.”