WASHINGTON — House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) advised White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci and chief of staff Reince Priebus to “sit down and settle their differences” as a Wednesday night tweet seemingly implicating Priebus in White House leaks escalated today.
Sean Spicer, the former press secretary for the Republican National Committee, announced his resignation last Friday after Scaramucci, who founded hedge-fund investment firm SkyBridge Capital, was appointed to the vacant communications role.
Scaramucci was appointed director of the White House Office of Public Liaison and Intergovernmental Affairs in January, sparking internal administration feuding linked to Priebus, the former RNC chairman, during his Office of Government Ethics vetting process. In March, the role went to Ideagen founder and former George W. Bush administration staffer George Sifakis.
In appointing Scaramucci last week, the White House said he would report directly to President Trump instead of to Priebus.
On Wednesday, Politico published a story that the reporter later said was based not on a leak but on Scaramucci’s publicly available financial disclosure form at the Export-Import Bank. Scaramucci thought it was a private document leaked by Priebus. “In light of the leak of my financial disclosure info which is a felony. I will be contacting @FBI and the @TheJusticeDept #swamp @Reince45,” he tweeted, later deleting the tweet.
On Wednesday evening, Scaramucci called New Yorker Washington correspondent Ryan Lizza, demanding to know who had leaked the news of his White House dinner with Sean Hannity, the president, the first lady and former Fox News executive Bill Shine. When Lizza wouldn’t tell him, Scaramucci threatened to fire all of the White House staff.
“They’ll all be fired by me,” Scaramucci said, according to Lizza’s report of the call, which he said Scaramucci did not ask to be off the record. “I fired one guy the other day. I have three to four people I’ll fire tomorrow. I’ll get to the person who leaked that to you. Reince Priebus—if you want to leak something—he’ll be asked to resign very shortly.” He went on to call Priebus “a fucking paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoiac,” proceeding to mock what he’d imagine Priebus saying: “ ‘Oh, Bill Shine is coming in. Let me leak the fucking thing and see if I can cock-block these people the way I cock-blocked Scaramucci for six months.’ ”
Scaramucci also went at Trump’s chief strategist: “I’m not Steve Bannon, I’m not trying to suck my own cock. I’m not trying to build my own brand off the fucking strength of the president. I’m here to serve the country.”
The communications director further said, “What I want to do is I want to fucking kill all the leakers and I want to get the president’s agenda on track so we can succeed for the American people.”
Scaramucci tweeted this evening: “I sometimes use colorful language. I will refrain in this arena but not give up the passionate fight for @realDonaldTrump’s agenda.”
Asked about the feud at a Capitol Hill press conference today, before the New Yorker story broke, Ryan said he’s “not sure what the whole interplay is.”
“All I would say is, as you know, Reince is a very close friend of mine,” the House Speaker added. “Reince is doing a fantastic job at the White House, and I believe he has the president’s confidence. So if –if — if those two gentlemen have differences, my advice would be to sit down and settle their differences.”
Asked if Priebus should remain as chief of staff, Ryan replied, “I think Reince is doing a great job as chief of staff.”
White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, asked today if Trump had confidence in Priebus, replied, “Look, I think I’ve addressed this question, when it comes to staffing and personnel many times, that if the president doesn’t, then he’ll make that decision. We all serve at the pleasure of the president. And if it gets to a place where that isn’t the case, he’ll let you know.”