After less than two weeks on the job, the president has decided that White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci is out.
Two White House sources confirmed to The Daily Beast that Monday would be Scaramucci’s last day as the West Wing’s top communications aide. His extremely short-lived White House tenure was racked by controversy, and spurred high-level White House staff changes, including the departure of chief of staff Reince Priebus on Friday.
It was not immediately clear whether Scaramucci would depart the White House entirely or be assigned to a different role within the administration. The White House communications shop did not immediately respond to requests for comment on this story. Neither did Scaramucci.
“Anthony Scaramucci will be leaving his role as White House Communications Director,” said Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders in a statement. “Mr. Scaramucci felt it was best to give Chief of Staff John Kelly a clean slate and the ability to build his own team. We wish him all the best.”
Scaramucci lit up White House colleagues last week in an interview with The New Yorker, in which he called Priebus a “fucking paranoid schizophrenic” and ridiculed chief White House strategist Steve Bannon for “trying to suck [his] own cock” by milking his image in the press. This was after President Donald Trump had specifically green-lighted his new, now ousted, communications director to go after Priebus with a vengeance, as The Daily Beast previously reported.
A Scaramucci friend said they were nervous by the massive amounts of drama surrounding his tenure and by the tumult that was engulfing his personal life. Though the friend called it a “meltdown,” as of this weekend they thought Scaramucci’s place in the administration was secure.
On Friday, Trump announced that former Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly would replace Priebus as White House chief of staff. And according to a senior White House official, it was Kelly who wanted Scaramucci—whom he considered a “hothead”—out of the comms gig. Other senior staffers, including chief strategist Steve Bannon, never wanted Scaramucci to get the job in the first place; some of Trump’s top advisers considered Scaramucci “amateur hour,” a “joke,” and a Trump-world “hanger-on.”
“Kelly killed it,” another White House source told The Daily Beast. “He made it clear that [Mooch] couldn’t be allowed to keep the [comms] post.”
Trump, on Monday morning, denied that the White House was in chaos. But Scaramucci’s ouster now caps six months of high-level staff shakeups. In addition to its chief of staff, the White House has seen the departures of the president’s deputy chief of staff, (an earlier) communications director, press secretary, national security adviser, a deputy national security adviser, and one of its top spokespersons. Priebus’s tenure was the shortest of any chief of staff in modern presidential history. Scaramucci’s even briefer stint atop the White House comms shop is surely among the shortest of any senior staffer.
In that short time in the White House, Scaramucci facilitated major changes in senior White House staffing. In addition to Priebus, former press secretary Sean Spicer announced his resignation on the day that Scaramucci was hired. Spicer deputy Sarah Sanders was named as his replacement. These moves appeared to be part of a larger attempt by Trump to sever ties with the Republican Party establishment in Washington, which he sees as ineffective and diluting his unique political brand.
The massive disruption left some of the president’s closest allies, both inside and outside the White House, uncomfortable with both the pace and style with which Scaramucci operated.
“I don't think it helps build a winning team to spend a lot of time shooting at yourself,” former House speaker Newt Gingrich, a top outside Trump adviser, told The Daily Beast on Thursday. “My hope was that [Anthony] would focus on [taking on] Trump's opponents not Trump’s staff [like Reince].”
Upon taking his White House post, Scaramucci immediately made it his mission to crack down on leaks from the West Wing, which he derided as unpatriotic and un-Christian.
News of his departure leaked before the White House could make an official announcement.
On Monday evening, Scaramucci headed to dinner at Trump International Hotel in Washington—just blocks from the White House—where he was seen chatting at a table at BLT Prime, the hotel’s restaurant, with spokespeople for the White House and the Treasury Department.
Scaramucci seemed taken aback when approached by The Daily Beast near the hotel lobby bar. “I’m just here to have dinner, have a good evening,” Scaramucci said when asked about the day’s tumultuous events.
—With additional reporting by Sam Stein