White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci blasted White House leakers — saying he and President Trump had a "very, very good idea" of who the leakers were — during an extraordinary phone call to CNN's New Day on Thursday.
Some background first: Scaramucci deleted a tweet in which he threatened to call on the FBI and the Justice Department to investigate the leak of his financial disclosure information. He tagged White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus in the tweet, leading many to assume that Priebus was the target of his threat.
Ryan Lizza of The New Yorker then tweeted that he could confirm Scaramucci wanted the FBI to investigate Priebus for leaking.
The financial disclosure forms that Scaramucci claims were illegally leaked are in fact publicly available upon request, according to Politico.
CNN contacted Scaramucci to get to the bottom of this, and he "took the opportunity and called in" to New Day on Thursday — resulting in a particularly unusual conversation with a high-ranking White House official.
Scaramucci said he had spoken to Trump on the phone, and that the president "has given me his full support and full blessing," and told him that if CNN anchor Chris Cuomo was "nice to me in this segment, he'll let me come back on the show."
Scaramucci then appeared to read out a statement blasting leakers inside the White House, saying, "I don't like what they're doing to my friend."
He also talked about tagging Priebus in his now-deleted tweet about leaking, saying, "If Reince wants to explain that he's not a leaker, let him do that."
Scaramucci said that after interviewing most assistants to the president, members of the communications team, and White House staffers, he and the president had "a very, very good idea who the leakers are, who the senior leakers are in the White House."
He said that he and the president, along with members of his team and law enforcement, were working together to "undercut and undercover — or out, if you will — the leakers in the entire country."
"As the president would say in his own words, the White House leakers are small potatoes," Scaramucci said.
He said leaks about Syria, North Korea, or Iraq were the types of leak that were "so treasonous that 150 years ago, people would have actually been hung for those types of leaks."
He called the leaks coming from the White House "absolutely, completely, and totally reprehensible."
"And as you know from the Italian expression, the fish stinks from the head down," Scaramucci told Cuomo. "But I can tell you two fish that don't stink, and that's me and the president. I don't like the activity that's going on in the White House. I don't like what they're doing to my friend. I don't like what they're doing to the president of the United States ,or their fellow colleagues in the West Wing."
Scaramucci then talked about his relationship with some White House staffers who he was at odds with — presumably Priebus — comparing it to the relationship between Cain and Abel.
"When I said we are brothers from the podium that's because we're rough — some brothers are like Cain and Abel, other brothers can fight with each other and get along. I don't know if this is reparable or not," he said.
He then said he respected journalists like Lizza for not telling him who the leakers in the White House are because "I understand and respect journalistic integrity."
"However, when I put out a tweet and I put Reince's name in the tweet, they're all making the assumption that it's him because journalists know who the leakers are. So, if Reince wants to explain that he's not a leaker, let him do that."
Cuomo then confronted Scaramucci on his relationship with Priebus, noting that Priebus had been opposed to Scaramucci being hired, and that Scaramucci had suggested that Priebus was a White House leaker.
Scaramucci said that he didn't want to name names, but that he was going to figure out "where the backstabbing is coming from."
"That will lead you to the people who are insecure or under-confident," he said. "If you can't bolster them and make them better, then you have to remove them from the process because then it becomes addition by subtraction."
And I'll leave you with this segment — in which Cuomo called out Scaramucci for being offensive by joking about Italians and about his colleague Jake Tapper, whom Scaramucci teased by saying he would give him a box of Kleenex if Trump is reelected.
Reince Priebus's name was misspelled in a previous version of this post.