Scaramucci out as White House Communications director

Anthony Scaramucci, known as "the Mooch" left President Donald Trump's White House less than two weeks after he was hired.

Hours after President Trump swore in a new chief of staff, the White House announced that Anthony Scaramucci, the hard-charging and controversial communications director, will step down.

The announcement came just 11 days after the man known as "The Mooch" was hired. 

 

"Mr. Scaramucci felt it was best to give Chief of Staff John Kelly a clean slate and the ability to build his own team," White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said. "We wish him all the best."

Scaramucci's sudden departure comes the same day that retired Gen. John Kelly took over as chief of staff.

Until this week, Kelly was Trump's secretary of Homeland Security, and is a former combat leader who was expected to impose discipline in a White House rocked by weeks of staff shakeups and political missteps.

Kelly, who replaced Reince Priebus, insisted on full control of the staff when he took the job, while Scaramucci made clear he would report only to Trump, administration officials said under condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters.The two men agreed their relationship would not work.

Scaramucci, a Wall Street financier, was tapped lead the White House communications shop on July 21. Now, it's unclear who will be replacing him, leaving the press office in flux as the president continues to dispute any reports of "chaos" at the White House.

Upon taking the job, Scaramucci faced criticism for a lack of communications experience, and a brash style that rubbed some West Wing colleagues the wrong way.

Immediately after his hiring, Scaramucci loudly launched investigations of news leaks stemming from the Trump administration – and vowed to fire anyone caught talking out of school to the media.

Scaramucci's departure comes just days after a report of his graphic and profane comments about Priebus and other staffers, such as senior adviser Steve Bannon.

In a now infamous phone call last week to the The New Yorker, Scaramucci called Priebus a "paranoid schizophrenic" and threatened to fire the entire White House communications team.

After the interview was published, Scaramucci took to Twitter to apologize for using "colorful" language on the job. 

Scaramucci's tenure – though brief – prompted its own staff shakeup at the White House.

His hire led to the immediate resignation of former press secretary Sean Spicer, who opposed his appointment, and the later removal of Priebus, Trump's former chief of staff whose departure was announced late Friday. Scaramucci himself removed senior assistant press secretary Michael Short, a former Republican National Committee official who worked with the Trump campaign during 2016 and was brought into the White House by Priebus.

Sanders said there are no plans to re-install Scaramucci to his previous job at the Export-Import Bank.

Before his brief White House stint, Scaramucci spent years on Wall Street, including at Goldman Sachs and Lehmann Brothers. In 2005, he started his own global investment firm, SkyBridge Capital.

His removal as communications director stunned Republicans already critical of what they described as White House turmoil.

Florida-based Republican consultant and Trump critic Rick Wilson tweeted: "It's not a dumpster fire. It's a mountain of dumpsters, filled with burning tires."

Michigan Rep. Justin Amash offered a succinct tweet, using an emoticon to express a somewhat bemused confusion:  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

And Democrats pounced.

"I speak for a grateful nation when I say 'has it really only been 11 days?!" tweeted Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. 

Former Obama administration official Dan Pfeiffer also poked fun at the brevity of Scaramucci's stint at the White House. "Unfortunately for the Mooch, the minimum tenure to get invited to the annual [White House] Comms Directors Reunion is 3 weeks," he tweeted. 

Ahead of Scaramucci's departure, Trump earlier Monday had a rosy outlook, insisting that Kelly would do a "spectacular" job and touting the support of his base. "We're doing very well. We have a tremendous base. We have a tremendous group of support. The country is optimistic," Trump said while swearing in Kelly on Monday. "And I think the General would just add to it."

Yet whoever comes in as the next communications director is likely to face an array of challenges – from unifying the White House around a consistent message, and communicating that message with reporters who have a sometimes tense relationship with a president who dubs many major media outlets "fake news."

The departure of both Priebus and Scaramucci comes after a tumultuous week for the Trump White House.

The president for days belittled his own Attorney General Jeff Sessions, raising questions about whether Trump wanted him to quit so he could get rid of special counsel Robert Mueller and assert greater control over the Russia investigation. Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner appeared before a House panel investigating possible collusion between Trump associates and Russia. And while Trump has demanded Republicans repeal and replace Obamacare, attempts to do so in the Senate last week fell short despite a GOP majority – prompting Trump to call lawmakers from his own party "fools" over the weekend.

What's more, leaders of the Boy Scouts and police departments across the country publicly rebuked Trump last week over overtly political or incendiary comments he made in speeches last week.

Scaramucci did not get good reviews during his brief tenure, and some analysts felt his departure would indeed bode well for the Trump White House – as well as Kelly's prospects as the new chief of staff.

"Anthony Scaramucci had absolutely no business being hired as White House Communications Director, and he quickly showed he was ill-suited not just for that particular job, but for any senior White House role," Texas-based political consultant Matt Mackowiak said.

"This is a clear sign that General Kelly is empowered and fully in charge, focused on getting the senior staff all on the same page, acting as a cohesive team. This is a very good sign."

Kelly has the skills to impose needed discipline in the White House, say those who know him.

Daniel W. Drezner, a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, said Kelly obviously had the authority to fire Scaramucci, and that has two positive effects.

"First, it gets rid of the most undisciplined staffer in an undisciplined administration," he said. "Second, it signals that Kelly, a no-nonsense guy, can fire people, which might deter other White House staffers into laying low for a spell."

© 2017 USATODAY.COM


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