White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci on Thursday morning called into CNN’s “New Day.” What followed was a more than 30-minute segment in which he suggested that his colleague and chief of staff Reince Priebus was “a leaker,” among many other bizarre moments.
Scaramucci equated his dynamic with Priebus to that of Cain and Abel.
“When I said we were brothers from the podium [during his first White House appearance last week], that’s because we’re rough on each other. Some brothers are like Cain and Abel. Other brothers can fight with each other and get along,” Scaramucci said of his frosty relationship with Priebus. “I don’t know if this is repairable or not. That will be up to the president.”
In the biblical story, Cain killed his brother Abel.
“People know my history between me and Reince. I can speak for my own actions. He’s going to need to speak for his own actions,” Scaramucci added later. “I think we’re going to go on too long. I’m going to take one last question, and I’m going to hang up.”
He claimed journalists “know who the leakers are.”
The original CNN segment featured The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza, who had been scheduled to discuss his reporting on Scaramucci from the previous evening. But Lizza was interrupted by a phone call from Scaramucci, who then spoke directly to the journalist to explain his side of the story, before claiming that Lizza and other journalists “know who the leakers are.”
“When I put out a tweet and I put Reince’s name in a tweet, they all make the assumption that it’s him because journalists know who the leakers are,” Scaramucci said. “So if Reince wants to explain he’s not a leaker, let him do that.”
“When the journalists, who actually know who the leakers are, like Ryan Lizza, they know the leakers, Jonathan Swain at Axio, these guys know who the leakers are,” he continued. (He was likely referring to Jonathan Swan at Axios.)
Scaramucci subsequently claimed he was being “sarcastic” and using “playful, jocular words.”
He used disgraced Penn State football coach Joe Paterno to tell White House staffers to “honor the job.”
“Why don’t you honor the job? You remember Joe Paterno? What would he say? Act like you’ve been there before,” Scaramucci said of White House staffers. “Act with honor and dignity and respect, and hold the confidence of the presidency in his office. Why don’t we do that?”
Paterno was fired in 2011, after helping to cover up the Jerry Sandusky sex-abuse scandal, which marred the storied football program at Penn State University. Paterno died months later and was not charged, but several other Penn State officials were sentenced to jail for their roles in the scandal, in addition to Sandusky.
And he said Trump briefed him on his CNN appearance.
“I spent about 15 minutes on the phone talking with the president of the United States, who has given me his full support and his full blessing,” Scaramucci told CNN host Chris Cuomo. “And I’m going to read you something, Chris. Bear with me. The president also told me, if you’re nice to me in this segment, he’ll let me come back on the show. Is that cool? So why don’t you let me talk for a little bit, and then you can ask me questions?”
He later stressed again that Trump told him to instruct Cuomo to be nice to Scaramucci.
“Let me tell you something. I work for one person. I report to the president of the United States. I talked to him for 15 minutes. I have his full support, OK? The only thing he said to me was, ‘If you’re going on Chris Cuomo’s show, he better be nice to you this morning. Otherwise, I’m not going to let you go on.’”
“But you’re doing a good job so far,” Scaramucci told Cuomo. “You have any other questions?”