28 Jul 2017

Scaramucci's tirade against White House officials

4:21 pm on 28 July 2017

The Trump administration's communications director has launched an expletive-filled attack against several senior White House officials.

Anthony Scaramucci

Anthony Scaramucci Photo: AFP

Anthony Scaramucci has vowed to crack down on White House leaks, and is threatening to go on a firing spree until the situation is resolved.

He has also attacked Donald Trump's Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, describing him as a paranoid schizophrenic, and accused Chief Strategist Steve Bannon of attempting to improve his status on the back of Mr Trump's popularity.

Washington correspondent Simon Marks told Jesse Mulligan the conflict was now overshadowing everything else in the US capital.

"These divisions inside the White House, between Scaramucci and Bannon and Priebus and Trump and Sessions and Tillerson, they are not rooted in philosophy. They're not rooted in political positions. This is a bloodsport, this is reality TV taking over the US government, and diminishing America's role on the world stage very, very substantially in the process."

Mr Scaramucci was scathing about Mr Priebus in a phone conversation with a reporter from The New Yorker magazine.

White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus

White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus Photo: AFP

The former Wall Street financier was upset that the reporter, Ryan Lizza, had tweeted about who Mr Scaramucci was dining with.

The conversation with Mr Lizza was littered with profanity-laced insults directed at Mr Priebus and Mr Steve Bannon.

Mr Scaramucci later tweeted his regret at the "colourful language". He did not deny the nature of the conversation as it was reported.

He has spent much of his first week in the White House railing against "leakers" and hinted in interviews that he thinks the chief of staff is one of them.

"If Reince wants to explain that he's not a leaker, let him do that," he told CNN in a phone interview.

President Trump has said that leaks from the White House are a national security threat and must stop.

The tensions between two of his top aides appeared to be made public when Mr Scaramucci tweeted on Wednesday night that his government financial disclosure form had been leaked.

The tweet, which he subsequently deleted, ended by tagging Mr Priebus' Twitter handle.

Mr Priebus, who formerly chaired the Republican National Committee, and former White House spokesman Sean Spicer, had reportedly opposed the hiring of Mr Scaramucci.

Mr Spicer announced his resignation on the same day that Mr Scaramucci was hired.

White House advisor Steve Bannon at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

White House advisor Steve Bannon Photo: AFP

"I don't know if [my relationship with Mr Priebus] is repairable or not," said Mr Scaramucci on Thursday. "That will be up to the president."

On his first day in the job last week, he told reporters that he and the chief of staff were personal friends who like to "rough each other up" once in a while. "But he's a dear friend," he added.

Sarah Sanders, the press secretary who reports to Mr Scaramucci, described the nature of the two aides' relationship as "healthy competition".

Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, who is the highest-ranking Republican member of Congress, told reporters on Thursday: "If those two men have differences, my advice would be to sit down and settle those differences."

- RNZ / BBC

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs