And he was ready to talk.
The question hanging over the entire interview was why exactly Scaramucci would want to appear on the show of a man who called him an unqualified “joke” when he was hired, a “cock” when his profane interview broke, and compared his firing to a Game of Thrones beheading.
After introducing his guest as “the shortest tenured communications director in White House history,” Scaramucci emerged from the wings to a smattering of “boos” from the audience and quipped, “I’ll pretend those are ‘Mooches’ and not boos.”
Scaramucci began on Monday night by extending Colbert’s Game of Thrones metaphor, this time comparing himself to Arya Stark. “I took a list of all your comedy writers, my kill list, they’re all in the back, I wrote them all down.”
“So you’re comedically threatening to kill people who work for me?” Colbert asked. “I want you to know, just for the record, this is on the record, this is being recorded right now,” the host added. “That’s a microphone you’re wearing right now.”
It has now been two weeks since Scaramucci was ousted from the White House, which is longer than he spent in the job as Trump’s White House communications director. But he has already taken on the role of pundit on behalf of the president, while reserving the right to criticize the man who publicly humiliated him when he sees fit.
“I wouldn’t have recommended that statement,” Scaramucci told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on Sunday in reference to Trump’s first comments on the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. “I think he would have needed to have been much harsher,” he said, adding, “With the moral authority of the presidency, you have to call that stuff out.”
While Colbert said he promised Scaramucci “no gotcha questions,” he decided to lead with one anyway: “Nazis: good or bad?”
When Scaramucci said everyone knows they are “super bad,” Colbert asked, “Why do you think the president of the United States, who you called ‘the most media-savvy person of our times,’ would shank a softball like that so hard when he should have just come out there and condemned the people who were there to start violence?” Later, he asked his guest of Trump, “Does he order his spine on Amazon Prime? Why did it take so long?”
Scaramucci said he didn’t want to “blame or point fingers” at anyone in the White House. He also called Trump a “compassionate person,” drawing definitive and loud boos from the crowd.
“Don't boo him for being the messenger,” Colbert told his audience, before asking for “evidence” of Trump’s alleged compassion. When Scaramucci said he feels for Trump because he gave up his “luxurious lifestyle” to become president, Colbert stopped him. “Who cares?” he asked. “Really? We’re supposed to feel bad for a guy who gave up his billionaire lifestyle to be the most powerful man in the world? I don’t understand.”
Scaramucci couldn’t quite answer that question, but he did have some insight into what it’s like inside Trump’s White House, even if he was only there for little more than a week. “From the outside, it looks like a dumpster fire,” Colbert said. “There are rumors of infighting and that there is chaos in there. What was it like for the 10 days you were in there? Did you get a sense of the chaos?”
“It’s a tough place,” Scaramucci said, admitting that there was “a lot of infighting” amongst senior staff. “I have a tendency to be very open and very honest with people,” he continued. “What happens there though is people don’t do that. They go behind each other’s backs, they leak things to the press and they say nasty things to each other to destabilize them or to influence the president’s judgment of them. So at least, whatever you think about me, I was pretty open about how I felt about people.”
“Very open,” Colbert said.
At that point, Colbert held up a particularly dramatic photo of Scaramucci staring down Reince Priebus in the Oval Office, asking his guest, “Were you brought in just to get rid of him?” The irony is, of course, that Priebus’ replacement as chief of staff, General John Kelly, was singularly responsible for getting rid of Scaramucci.
“I don’t want to say it that way,” Scaramucci replied. Goaded into responding “as the Mooch,” he added, “There was no love lost there.” He said he and Priebus were “pretty good friends” back when he was a lowly political donor “writing checks to the RNC.”
“But once I became part of the administration, or was about to enter the administration,” he continued, acknowledging the fact that he was forced to resign before his official start date, “for whatever reason, it was a little more adversarial.”
Even with Priebus gone, the leaks continue to flow out of the White House, and Scaramucci admitted that he thinks Steve Bannon is responsible for at least some of those leaks to the press. “If it was up to me, he would be gone,” he said of Bannon. “But it’s not up to me.”
Colbert had to ask about the quote that got the most attention from Scaramucci’s New Yorker interview about Bannon trying to “suck his own cock.”
“Are you telling us that you never even tried?” he asked.
Reluctantly, Scaramucci admitted, “I’m not capable of doing that.” As for Bannon, he joked, “Maybe he was doing hot yoga in there.” He added, after a break, that he does not think Bannon is a “white supremacist.” But, he said, “What I don't like is the toleration of it. It’s something that should be completely and totally intolerated.”
Things turned a little more personal when Colbert asked Scaramucci if he feels “burned” by his experience in the White House. “You were there 10 days, you were extremely loyal to the president, even at this point after you were shown the door, do you feel burned or backstabbed?”
“No, not at all,” he replied. “When you take a job like that, Stephen, you know your expiration date was coming. I didn’t think I was going to last too long, but I thought I would last longer than a carton of milk.” He even suggested that he left with his “honor” intact.
Even though he said he made “a lot of mistakes,” if he could do it all over again, Scaramucci said, remarkably, that he would do “absolutely nothing” different. “At the end of the day, you have to accept what your fate is, you’ve got to do it without bitterness and you’ve got to stay humble.”