Return of the Mooch
Anthony Scaramucci is back. And he’s still stabbing his enemies from the front
anthony scaramucci is due at fox Business in five minutes, and he’s nowhere to be found. I’m standing in the midtown Manhattan lobby of the Fox complex when, 30 seconds to airtime, he swoops in, hand in hand with his wife, Deidre, a thin blond wearing Balenciaga heels and brown leather leggings.
Lunch went late at their social club, Scaramucci explains. I want to ask about how all this squares with the title of his new book, Trump, the Bluecollar President, but there’s no time. We’re whisked through security as makeup artists descend upon him. Producers shout his nickname. Lights, camera, action: The Mooch is back.
More than a year after setting the record for the shortest-serving White House communications director in history, Scaramucci is making the rounds to promote his new book, which details his life growing up on working-class Long Island alongside the wealth of New Yorkers like Donald Trump.
Writing it, he says, was a form of therapy after his bombastic 11-day stint taking reporters’ questions in the White House briefing room. His firing in July 2017 came after he spoke with a journalist on the record and called then–chief of staff Reince Priebus a “paranoid schizophrenic,” among other, cruder things. It was classic Mooch. He now says he never fit into the backstabbing culture of Washington. “I’m more of a front-stabbing person,” he famously declared, just before his ouster.
And if there was any doubt that America’s forgotten him, it’s extinguished after the Fox Business taping. We leave the building and walk past a large group of union protesters. A middle-aged man, with a thick Long Island accent, shouts at him: “Mr. Mooch, I love ya, brother! I love ya! I don’t care what Joy Behar says!”
Scaramucci turns to me and explains that on Long Island, Republicans are pro-union. “I’ve always been a friend of the unions. I’m a pro-labor Republican. Does that make any sense?”
I ask whether he supports Trump’s anti-union policies, and, in a flash, he’s back to being a White House handler. “What’s happened now, because of the complexity of society and the way the economy works right now, the unions aren’t always as effective. It’s slowing things down,” he says. He then turns back to the men, now lining up to march, and yells: “I grew up just like you guys. Give them hell, man, don’t back off!”
Scaramucci spoke with Newsweek
about his tumultuous White House tenure, Trump’s staying power and why he still hates Steve Bannon.
<ou were ɿred by :hite House chief of staff John Kelly after 11 days in the :hite House and you weren’t too hassy about it. :hy do you stay loyal to Trump? Because I like the guy. I think he’s falling, but I like him. I got fired about 15 months ago. I’ve probably talked to the president about 20 times since then. If I call him, he always calls me back. Sometimes we shoot the shit, sometimes we talk politics, sometimes he’s mad at me and he yells at me.
:hy does he get mad at you? Here’s an example: He got mad at me because I made some comments related to his Putin meeting [in Helsinki]. I said I didn’t understand why he’s disavowing these intelligence agencies, and he said he didn’t know what I was talking about, that he had a great meeting with Putin and the press conference was totally fine. You need people around you that are not sycophants. Loyalty and sycophancy are not congruent to each other. If anything, they’re the opposite. Are there any other areas where you disagree with Trump?
I mean, you’re separating children at the border? When that story came out, I said, “This is ridiculous.” Thank God Ivanka and Melania joined me in telling the president, “What are you doing? This is absolutely and totally wrong.”
In the book you say that Trump sees the presidency as a game. Do you still think that’s the case? Here’s what I think about the press: If you’re attacking him, he’s going to attack you back. When people say to me he has a thin skin, he doesn’t. What he has is a strike-back mechanism, a counterpunching mechanism.
You can hate him, fact-check him, say he said 5,000 lies or whatever. It really doesn’t matter. What matters is that [the public] voted for a wrecking ball; he is their wrecking ball. If you don’t change your game plan, you’re not going to beat him.
Do you ever tell the president to cool it?
Yeah, but he laughs. He says, “If I calmed down I wouldn’t be president.”
But could he ever take it far enough to lose his base?
Look, it works until one day it doesn’t work anymore.
Tweet about Mika [Brzezinski’s] face-lift, tweet about individual journalists, say mean and nasty stuff on your Twitter account about your adversaries, and, over time, you’re thinning the ice. You’re making your personality a question mark for half the people. The Trump dilemma is that he wants to push your buttons
“Know why I believe in God? Because he made Bannon so ugly the civilization can’t take him seriously.”
and get you to love him anyway. It’s like having a borderline wife: She’s going to push you, move the goalposts, drive you crazy, but she wants you to love her anyway.
In 1 during the presidential campaign Trump disparaged 6enator John Mccain who spent roughly ɿve and a half years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. Trump said “I like people who weren’t captured.” You said that line brought you on board.
I thought that was going to finish him, but people liked him. This guy is made out of rubber—the bolts just bounce right off of him. People don’t care, they’re going to vote for him. Here’s the lesson: People are so upset and they’re so dissatisfied with their establishment 30-year career politician that they voted in a billionaire real estate developer reality-tv star. That’s how upset they are.
You had a phone call with President Trump after you were ɿred. :hat did you say?
He was checking in and wanted to make sure there were no hard feelings. I said, “Come on, I gave you a ton of money, hundreds of hours of media surrogacy and advocacy. You don’t fire a guy like that. You’re lucky I’m a regular guy and I’m not one of these vindictive morons, by the way.”
You didn’t get along with Steve Bannon. He was also ɿred. :hat do you make of him now?
He’s a white nationalist, ethnocentrist, anti-semite. You know why I believe in God? When my faith in God is slightly tested, I think about Steve Bannon. He is articulate, he’s charismatic, and he’s well read. But God made him so ugly that the civilization can’t take him that seriously.
:hat about 5eince Priebus?
I have four sons, I would like to show them a picture of him and say, “You don’t want to grow up to be this guy. Do the opposite of this jerk-off.”
Do you see yourself as a Trumplike ɿgure?
I’m the way Trump was circa 2003: I’m a New York Republican. I want the economy to grow, but I want everybody to have fun in their lives. You pick your sexuality, no problem with me, I could care less. See, if you want to be president you have to fit in a box, and you have to lie to people. In your book you say you had seen the president get away with a liberal use of language but in the end it cost you your job…
It hurt me at the time, but do you think these guys on the street are going to be high-fiving me if they didn’t see me for who I really am? People are, like, “OK, this is a real dude.” That’s good enough for me. Washington people don’t like me? No problem, I’ll wear that as a badge of honor.
So what do you see this new book doing for you? :hy write it now? Did you ever read Flat Stanley as a kid? It was one of those Scholastic books. I feel like I was Flat Stanley coming out of the White House: I got rolled into a two-dimensional character. I got mimicked or mocked on Saturday Night Live, and the narrative was that I was this simplistic, verbally challenged, ethnic, profane Mfer. I really am all of those things, but I happen to be pretty well educated, and I built two very successful businesses. I just didn’t understand the mechanisms in Washington. So you wanna call me naïve to the political situation? I plead guilty to that. But I think the book takes my Flat Stanley profile and blows me back up into a more authentic version of myself.
:ould you ever run for anything? I’m stupid enough to run for office, but I’m not stupid enough to pour millions of dollars into a New York campaign as a Republican. If I was in a purple state, I’d probably be stupid enough to do it.