Former short-lived White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci said Monday that President Trump is “giving people a license to hate” and called on Republicans to consider replacing him on the top of the ticket next year.
“How are we all tolerating this?” Scaramucci said during an interview on CNN. “The rhetoric is so charged and so divisive that we all have to just take a step back now and say, ‘What are we doing actually?’”
In an interview with The Washington Post later Monday, Scaramucci said he wanted to recruit other former Trump aides and prominent Republicans to come forward with critical opinions of the president — views he said that many had shared with him privately.
Scaramucci said he didn’t know if people would come forward to support his effort. He said the United States needed a “smart, capable and able person who loves the country and understands the country.”
“If you blow a bugle and no one comes for the march, that tells you that you don’t have an effort,” he said.
Until recently, Scaramucci, who was fired after serving in the White House for 11 days in 2017, had continued to express support for Trump even as he increasingly spoke out on television and Twitter about some of the president’s rhetoric on race and other issues.
Last week, Scaramucci characterized Trump’s visits to El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, in the aftermath of mass shootings in the two cities as a “total catastrophe,” saying Trump appeared more focused on promoting himself than helping victims of the violence.
That criticism was apparently what prompted Trump to lash out at Scaramucci on Twitter over the weekend, writing that he was “totally incapable of handling” the communications director job and “would do anything to come back in.”
Scaramucci told The Washington Post Monday that he didn’t know if others would come forward to take on Trump because they “don’t want to be cyberbullied by the bully in chief.”
“Once he lights you up on Twitter, you start getting death threats,” Scaramucci said.
He also said he had called Trump several times in the past few months to give the president private guidance. “He didn’t return my call,” Scaramucci said, adding that that was not the reason he was coming forward now.
During the CNN interview, Scaramucci said he is no longer supporting Trump’s reelection bid and wants to see another Republican step up to run. He ruled out making his own run and insisted that Trump’s tweet about him was not the sole motivation for his call for the party to consider another nominee.
“I mean at some point, the people in my party ought to look at this stuff and stop being anesthetized to it,” he said of Trump.
Trump responded to Scaramucci’s comments in a tweet Monday afternoon.
“Scaramucci, who like so many others had nothing to do with my Election victory, is only upset that I didn’t want him back in the Administration (where he desperately wanted to be),” Trump said. “Also, I seldom had time to return his many calls to me. He just wanted to be on TV!”
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham told reporters Monday that she considers Scaramucci’s comments about Trump “so self-serving on his part, and the media plays right into it.”
“It’s embarrassing to watch,” she said.
Scaramucci first raised the prospect of the GOP looking for another nominee in an interview with Axios that published on Sunday night. In that piece, he compared Trump to the Chernobyl nuclear reactor as depicted on an HBO series.
“We are now in the early episodes of ‘Chernobyl’ on HBO, where the reactor is melting down and the apparatchiks are trying to figure out whether to cover it up or start the cleanup process,” Scaramucci said.
During his CNN appearance, Scaramucci compared Trump to the Wicked Witch of the West in the movie “The Wizard of Oz,” a character who melted away when Dorothy threw water on her. Scaramucci drew a parallel between Republican supporters of Trump to soldiers in the movie who had previously protected the witch.
“Remember when the water got thrown on the green witch and she started melting?” Scaramucci said. “What happened to all those soldiers, right? … Let’s throw some water on the green witch, and let’s watch what the soldiers do, which is they’ll team up with Dorothy.”
During the interview, Scaramucci predicted there could be a “groundswell” of other Republicans speaking out publicly about Trump as he is doing.
“Sound and reasonably minded men and women in the Republican Party will say, ‘Wait a minute, we can’t do this,’” Scaramucci said. “He is giving people a license to hate, to provide a source of anger, to go after each other, and does it on his Twitter account.’”
During a Monday afternoon interview on MSNBC, Scaramucci used yet another metaphor — baseball — to discuss his desire to see Trump replaced on the GOP ticket.
“I think he’s a very tired pitcher now that’s throwing balls over the backstop, and we need a relief pitcher to come in that can speak to the American people about very similar policies with a different, more inclusive style.”
Felicia Sonmez contributed to this report.