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Donald Trump

Trump fires Scaramucci as communications director, after insisting ‘no WH chaos!’

Trump’s new chief of staff John Kelly requested the dismissal of Scaramucci, who was hired as communications boss 11 days ago

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 August, 2017, 3:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 August, 2017, 9:18am

Anthony Scaramucci has been fired as White House communications director after just 11 days on the job — and just hours after former General John Kelly took over as US President Donald Trump’s new chief of staff.

Hoping to turn the page on a tumultuous opening chapter to his presidency, Trump had insisted earlier Monday that there was no “chaos” in his White House as he swore in the retired Marine general as his second chief of staff.

Not long after, Scaramucci, who shocked many with a profane outburst last week against then-chief of staff Reince Priebus, was gone, fired at the request of Kelly, according to the New York Times.

In the words of the White House announcement, he was leaving because he “felt it was best to give Chief of Staff John Kelly a clean slate and the ability to build his own team.” The three-sentence release concluded: “We wish him all the best.”

The statement about Scaramucci’s departure used the same “clean slate” language that departing press secretary Sean Spicer used to describe his reason for resigning on July 21 — the day Trump brought Scaramucci aboard.

Spicer was at the White House on Monday, saying he was assisting with the communications transitions.

As the Scaramucci news spread, Kelly was in the East Room smiling and taking pictures with guests who were gathering for a Medal of Honour presentation.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump felt that Scaramucci’s profanity-laced comments against Priebus “were inappropriate for a person in that position” of White House communications director. The president had not publicly expressed disapproval of those comments in the days after they became public.

Sanders added that Kelly has “the full authority to operate within the White House and that all staff will report to him,” a change from Priebus’ tenure.

Earlier, in an Oval Office ceremony, Trump predicted Kelly, who previously served as Homeland Security chief, would do a “spectacular job.” And the president chose to highlight the rising stock market and positive jobs outlook rather than talk about how things might need to change in his White House under Kelly.

Trump on Friday ousted Priebus as chief of staff and turned to Kelly, who he hopes will bring military discipline to an administration weighed down by a stalled legislative agenda, infighting among West Wing aides and a stack of investigations.

Scaramucci’s brief tenure shoved internal White House disputes into the open. In media interviews, he trashed Priebus as a “leaker” and senior White House aide Steve Bannon as a self-promoter. He referenced both men in vulgar terms that referenced the male anatomy. One of Scaramucci’s first — and it turns out only — acts was to force out a communications aide seen as loyal to Priebus.

Spicer, Priebus and Bannon had all objected to Trump’s decision to hire Scaramucci, who would have reported directly to the president.

While Trump is looking for a reset, he pushed back against criticism of his administration with this tweet: “Highest Stock Market EVER, best economic numbers in years, unemployment lowest in 17 years, wages raising, border secure, S.C.: No WH chaos!”

In fact, economic growth averaged 2 per cent in the first half of this year, a pace Trump railed against as a candidate and promised to lift to 3 per cent. The stock market first hit a record under former president Barack Obama and has kept growing. The unemployment rate, too, started to decline on Obama’s watch. And wage gains have been weak.

Trump on Monday convened his first Cabinet meeting with Kelly at his side, telling his team it is “doing incredibly well” and “starting from a really good base.” On how he would deal with rising tensions with North Korea, Trump said only: “It will be handled.”

Seated across from Trump was Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has stayed on the job while Trump has publicly savaged him in interviews and on social media, calling him “VERY weak”.

Kelly’s success in a chaotic White House will depend on how much authority he is granted and whether Trump’s duelling aides will put aside their rivalries to work together. Also unclear is whether a new chief of staff will have any influence over the president’s social media histrionics.

Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who was ousted from the campaign in June 2016, said on NBC’s Meet the Press that he expected Kelly would “restore order to the staff” but also stressed that Trump was unlikely to change his style.

“I say you have to let Trump be Trump. That is what has made him successful over the last 30 years. That is what the American people voted for,” Lewandowski said. “And anybody who thinks they’re going to change Donald Trump doesn’t know Donald Trump.”

Kelly’s start follows a wild week, marked by a profane tirade by Scaramucci, the president’s continued criticism of his attorney general and the failed effort by Senate Republicans to overhaul the nation’s health care law.