Re­turn of the Mooch

An­thony Scara­mucci is back. And he’s still stab­bing his en­e­mies from the front

Newsweek International - - CONTENTS - BY NI­COLE GOODKIND @Ni­cole­good­kind

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 Blue

Col­lar 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. You were fired by White House chief of staff John Kelly af­ter 11 days in the White House, and you weren’t too happy about it. Why 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. Why 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 2015, dur­ing the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, Trump dis­par­aged Se­na­tor John Mccain, who spent roughly five 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 fired. What 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 fired. What 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. What about Reince 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 fig­ure? 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? Why 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. Would 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.

THE EX Scara­mucci’s af­fec­tion for his for­mer boss re­mains, even af­ter get­ting fired. Trump “wants to push your but­tons and get you to love him any­way. It’s like hav­ing a bor­der­line wife.”

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