by TARA PALMERI and JOSH DAWSEY · July 31, 2017
President Donald Trump has removed Anthony Scaramucci as communications director, a little more than a week after the former financier was named to the post, the White House said on Monday.
The change came at the request of new chief of staff John Kelly, who started Monday, two White House officials said. It was not clear whether Scaramucci would take on a new role after leaving the communications job, nor was it immediately apparent who would take over the position.
“Anthony Scaramucci will be leaving his role as White House Communications Director,” press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said 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.”
Sanders told reporters Monday afternoon that Scaramucci has no role in the administration “at this time,” but she refused to elaborate on the circumstances surrounding his departure.
“I’m not going to get into the process tick-tock,” Sanders said at the press briefing. “Look, as we’ve said several times before, what matters most to us is not who’s employed in the White House but who’s employed in the rest of the country.”
Scaramucci was expected to announce his new communications team Monday afternoon, but he was instead informed of the decision to remove him that morning in Kelly’s office. Scaramucci was not present when senior staff were told of the change, a White House official said. Another senior aide said the move came after discussions over the weekend. There was “no way” Scaramucci could work with Kelly, the senior aide said.
“Kelly is already changing the culture here,” said another White House aide. As the news broke, Kelly was spotted in the White House’s East Room for a ceremony, chatting with other senior officials.
Scaramucci’s brief tenure brought turmoil to the West Wing, including the exits of press secretary Sean Spicer and former chief of staff Reince Priebus. Scaramucci had tried unsuccessfully to get a White House job earlier in the year, but he settled temporarily for a position at the U.S. Export-Import Bank.
His time as communications director seemed to start smoothly, with a friendly on-camera appearance in the White House briefing room on July 21, the day his new position was announced. Spicer’s tenure had been marked by combative exchanges with reporters, and the briefings were largely moved off camera until Scaramucci took over.
But Scaramucci quickly ramped up the drama by threatening to fire “everybody” in the White House press office if leaks to reporters did not stop. On Tuesday, he told POLITICO he planned to fire a press aide — but after he made the move public, it was delayed until the aide, Michael Short, resigned later that day.
Scaramucci also was widely criticized for a profanity-laced tirade last week in a conversation with a New Yorker reporter.
White House dodges questions on Scaramucci’s exit
“Listen, the president certainly felt that Anthony’s comments were inappropriate for a person in that position, and he didn’t want to burden General Kelly also with that line of succession,” Sanders said. “General Kelly has the full authority to operate within the White House, and all staff will report to him.”
Trump, however, had denied the reports of disorder in the West Wing. “No WH chaos!” he tweeted on Monday morning.
Theodoric Meyer and Nolan D. McCaskill contributed to this report.