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Civil war hits Trump’s White House as Scaramucci appears to accuse Priebus of leaks
Donald Trump’s White House is looking more and more like reality TV every day.
President Donald Trump’s new communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, incorrectly claimed that he had fallen victim to a White House leaker during a Wednesday night Twitter outburst that appeared to implicate Trump’s chief of staff, Reince Priebus.
Hours before Scaramucci’s tweet, a financial disclosure form that he was required to file with the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) was published by Politico. Scaramucci responded by calling on the FBI to launch an investigation—and, oddly, tagged 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 wrote. [Edited for grammar.]
The Politico report revealed Scaramucci possesses assets worth around $85 million and that, since January 2016, he made $4.9 million from an ownership stake in investment firm SkyBridge Capital on top of a $5 million salary.
Despite Scaramucci’s claim that he fell victim to a White House leaker, his financial disclosure, which was filed on June 23, has been legally available to the public since July 23. New York Times reporter Peter Baker even pitched this explanation directly to Scaramucci on Wednesday evening, who reportedly continued to insist otherwise.
But Baker’s theory was corroborated on Thursday morning by Lorraine Woellert, the reporter behind the Politico report, who confirmed that she had, in fact, obtained the document through a public request. Politico also clarified the public nature of the document in its report.
I'd say Peter can be counted on to get the story right. Form 278e is a public document.— Lorraine (@Woellert) July 27, 2017
Scaramucci has yet to respond to the revelation that his financial form was public. Instead, he called into CNN on Thursday morning, during a conversation about the leak allegations. There, Scaramucci insisted that he knew which White House officials were leaking to the press.
It’s the second notion that Scaramucci addressed on CNN, the inclusion of White House chief of staff Reince Priebus’ twitter handle in his tweet, that political commentators and Twitter users have been preoccupied with.
Reports inside the White House strongly suggest that the pair has a tense and difficult relationship—although both men deny it in the press.
Priebus, and departing spokesman Sean Spicer, had both stated their opposition to Scaramucci’s appointment. The chief of staff also, according to the Washington Post, has blocked Scaramucci’s application to several senior White House roles since the administration began and canceled three meetings to delay his appointment to communication director.
In return, a frustrated Scaramucci is reported by staffers to have consistently criticized the chief of staff, for whom he apparently uses a crude nickname, and berated the press office.
However, as speculation mounted that Scaramucci was accusing Priebus of leaking to the press, the communications director denied the accusation in a follow-up post and deleted the original tweet.
Given that Scaramucci’s disclosure form wasn’t leaked, Priebus’ name is cleared in this instance—but it will no doubt serve the persistent theory that the chief of staff is bleeding information to reporters. Several prominent Trump supporters, including Republican operative Roger Stone, have already claimed that Priebus is the figure behind the leaks that have plagued the administration since its early days.
Further, Washington Post bureau chief Philip Rucker reports that Trump himself authorized Scaramucci’s CNN appearance, suggesting the president supports the public attack on his own chief of staff.
I just asked Scaramucci whether Trump authorized him going on CNN to talk leaks and Preibus. "He did, yes," Scaramucci replied.— Philip Rucker (@PhilipRucker) July 27, 2017
Given reports that Scaramucci is being considered as a replacement to Priebus, many are interpreting the cryptic “in light of the leak” tweet as a political attack that mimics Trump’s humiliation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions over the past week.
If Scaramucci is set on winning the approval of the president he once called “anti-American” then it seems he is going about it by imitation, which is, they say, the sincerest form of flattery.
The Mooch did his homework. pic.twitter.com/Wku0DF2ovd— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) July 24, 2017
David Gilmour is a reporter who specializes in national politics, internet culture, and technology. He previously covered civil liberties, crime, and politics for Vice.