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Anthony Scaramucci’s mouth could be a problem as he tries to crack down on leaks

White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci spoke with reporters outside the West Wing on Tuesday. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
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White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci invoked his faith Tuesday to emphasize the extent of his frustration that news of an assistant press secretary's firing hit the press before the aide was notified of his termination.

“The fact that you guys know about it before he does really upsets me as a human being and as a Roman Catholic, you got that?” Scaramucci told reporters.

Later, aboard Air Force One, he complained to a pool reporter about “rumors that I'm firing more people” and sought to set the record straight. “I'm not firing any more people, at least for now,” he said.

Here's the thing: Scaramucci is the one who told Politico about his plan to fire Michael Short before informing Short. And Scaramucci is the one who started “rumors” of additional layoffs when he told a group of journalists that he is “going to fire everybody.”

Scaramucci says he is determined to crack down on White House leaks, but on Tuesday it was his own mouth that produced reports he lamented.

Inexperience could help explain what happened. Politico reported Short's firing at 9:15 a.m., which reporter Tara Palmeri later explained was the time that Scaramucci had planned to notify Short. Palmeri tweeted that “legal protocol” prevented Scaramucci from talking to Short at the appointed time, which led to Short learning his fate through the media.

It appears that Scaramucci, in his fifth day on the job, thought that he would get to Short before Short could read his own name in the press but failed to account for all the steps required to dismiss an employee.

And Scaramucci's consternation at reports that more firings are on the horizon could be attributed to a failure to choose his words carefully. “I'm going to fire everybody” is a headline-grabbing statement that projects certainty. Scaramucci delivered other remarks in the same question-and-answer session that indicated he will only fire everybody if White House leaks do not stop, but a veteran spokesman might have known better than to make such a declarative statement in the first place.

Scaramucci has never worked in public relations until now.

Scaramucci probably can’t stop leaks, even if he does ‘fire everybody’

In a CNN interview Wednesday, he tempered his anti-leak rhetoric a bit, conceding that “the leaks will never stop.”

“But if I can dial back the leaks in the department that I am representing and the department that I am running, then I will feel that I have accomplished something on behalf of our president,” he said.

Scaramucci might have to keep dialing back his own statements, too, if he really wants to keep sensitive information in-house.

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