Anthony Scaramucci joins White House as communications director but he hasn’t always been a fan of Donald Trump
Scaramucci is a well-known cable news speaker but has no experience delivering an effective White House narrative or communications strategy
US President Donald Trump’s decision to bring Anthony Scaramucci into a top White House role represents a remarkable political ascension for the investment veteran, who had bounced around several Republican campaigns before striking gold as a full-throated Trump supporter.
Scaramucci, known as “The Mooch”, is at least the third person offered the White House communications director job since Trump was elected last year. Jason Miller initially accepted the post but opted against it before he ever started. Michael Dubke had the job for a tumultuous stint several weeks ago but left after the White House lurched from one controversy to the next.
Trump has long admired Scaramucci’s unabashed loyalty and willingness to stick up for the president during hostile interviews on cable news. Scaramucci has an upbeat enthusiasm that White House officials believe has been missing from their current communications strategy, several administration officials said.
This would be at least the third Trump administration job that Scaramucci has been offered. He was set to be director of the White House’s Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs, but critics within the White House blocked him from ultimately taking that post.
In June, he started working in a senior role at the US Export-Import Bank, but he will have only been in that job for roughly a month because he will be transitioning into the White House communications job very soon.
Scaramucci didn’t initially jump onto the Trump campaign. In 2015, he worked on Scott Walker’s presidential campaign, serving as national finance chairman, and then he latched on to the Jeb Bush campaign when Walker withdrew. He later signed up to help Trump with his campaign and rose as one of the most well-spoken advocates for Trump’s agenda, particularly the president’s economic goals to grow the economy.
Scaramucci has not always had the kindest words for Trump. Before he joined Trump’s campaign, he said during a 2015 Fox Business appearance that Trump – as a candidate was “another hack politician”.
“Probably going to make Elizabeth Warren his vice-presidential nominee,” he said.
He also once said Trump would probably become president of “The Queens County Bully Association”.
“You are an inherited money dude from Queens County, bring it,” Scaramucci said.
Scaramucci, like Trump, has deep New York roots and he worked at Goldman Sachs before starting SkyBridge Capital, an investment company. He hosted an annual hedge fund conference in Las Vegas that became a well-attended industry gathering, called the SALT conference, which helped him raise his profile.
Numerous appearances on cable news helped even more, and it was Scaramucci, in 2010, who asked Barack Obama during a CNBC town hall when the White House would stop treating bankers like “a piñata”.
He’s known as being very comfortable in the rough-and-tumble world of fighting back against negative press. CNN published a story alleging that the Senate Intelligence Committee was looking into whether Scaramucci met with a top executive from a Russian investment fund before the inauguration.
Scaramucci denied doing anything wrong, the story was later retracted, and three CNN officials resigned. The moment was seen as a big victory for Trump as his allies, who have complained for months about negative media coverage. Scaramucci accepted CNN’s apology and his stature grew even more within the White House.
Still, Scaramucci is a well-known cable news speaker but has no experience delivering an effective White House narrative or communications strategy. He does, however, speak with a more populist and less political bent than other White House officials. He has said, for example, that more must be done to address income inequality, an issue the Obama administration tried to elevate with mixed success.
“You may not like the president, you might like the president, but we have to fix this problem whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican,” Scaramucci said at the SALT conference in May. “The rich people in this room, the wealthy people, you don’t want to live in a barbed-wire-encased security perimeter in your McMansion like they do in Latin America. So we have to fix this problem.”
He has also shown an openness to bringing more bipartisanship into the Trump administration as well, something that separates him from others who have deeper ties with the Republican National Committee.
At Mitt Romney’s annual Deer Valley retreat this June, Scaramucci attended and offered his ideas for how he would remake the White House’s communications team, according to someone who was there who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss details of the private event. He said the White House’s message has been muddled and needed to be made more clearly.
He suggested that if he was there he would start a daily “TV” show of sorts each morning, with a desk on the White House lawn. Each day they’d broadcast their own news report on the things they wanted to promote, having guests appear and even inviting Democrats to join and discuss the day’s agenda.
In Scaramucci’s 2016 book, Hopping Over the Rabbit Hole, How Entrepreneurs Turn Failure into Success, he told readers about how not to take criticism personally.
He wrote that he went to the Lupus Foundation annual luncheon after being “ripped apart by bloggers and reporters” and was seated near Trump. Trump noticed that he was downtrodden and asked what was wrong.
When Scaramucci mentioned the media criticism, Trump responded: “Look, it comes with the territory. You are gaining a high profile, which means it’s time for people to start shooting at you. Buck up! Big deal you were raked over the coals a little bit. So what? It has been happening to me for over 30 years. I laugh at the hit pieces now. The sooner you build up your resistance, the better.”