Today, like preceding six months and one day that Donald Trump has been the President of the United States, was another day of tumult and speculation.
Anthony Scaramucci, he of the “fabulous” hairdo and Hollywood good looks, has something that he wants everyone to know: “I love the president,” he told reporters more than a half a dozen times in five minutes during his first appearance at the White House on Friday as the new Communications Director.
Meanwhile, Sean Spicer who, until Scarmucci’s appointment, was the press secretary says he has something he wants everyone to know: He’s done. Mic drop. Spicer has left the building–along with Elvis.
It’s not like we didn’t see it coming. Spicer has seemed uncomfortable at the podium from the first day of the administration…when he brought out photographs and defended president Trump’s inauguration crowd numbers as the largest in the history.
For a while, he seemed to have The Donald’s favor – the President even praised Spicer’s ratings during daily press briefings. But six months in and Spicer is out. Insiders say he was incensed at Scaramucci’s appointment – but those who know Spicer say he’s only been around in body and not spirit since the President’s first overseas trip.
Two things happened around that time: the President fired his FBI director James Comey and he also kept Spicer from seeing the Pope when they traveled to Rome. The first move was widely seen has political suicide for the President and has helped propel concerns about Trump’s Russian ties; the second was a direct slap in the face to the very devout Catholic Spicer.
Scaramucci, who once raised funds for former president Barack Obama but then famously asked at a CNBC Town Hall when Obama was going to “quit whacking Wall Street like a piñata,” was candid and engaging in his first meeting with the press. He downplayed his lack of public relation skills while playing up his Harvard Law Degree and his best-selling book. “I have all the copies in my basement,” he joked. He cheered Spicer for being a team player and said he hoped Spicer goes on to make a lot of money. While Scaramucci ignored any friction inside the White House, he also said he and Steve Bannon were outgoing and liked to engage in team sports–which include a lot of rough and tumble action.
As much as he praised Spicer, he then also went on to hand Sarah Huckabee Sanders the plum she apparently always wanted–she’s now the press secretary.
No matter how the President, Scaramucci and now Sanders want to spin the latest move, Spicer’s ouster also comes at a very critical time for the administration. While the president continues to characterize the Russian investigation as a “witch hunt,” senators are calling his son and others in the administration to testify about what they knew and when. The testimony will come next week. Fireworks will surely follow.
Scaramucci, an ardent Trump fan will bring a breath of fresh air – or blow fresh air up everyone’s skirt – with his appointment. But as the scandals continue, and the consequences of Trump’s policies pile up, it will be interesting to see if he lasts any longer than his predecessor Mike Dubke.
Meanwhile fans and foes of Spicer alike are saying he picked the absolute “perfect” time to abandon ship. “The rats won’t go down with the ship,” said one Democrat congressional staffer.
Spicer leaves with a good reputation inside the White House and for the most part, outside of the White House too. There are many who say he sold his soul, but those who know him say he had a difficult time from the outset–and at one time a critic of Donald Trump–he could never swallow the Kool-Aid the administration offered.
“He soldiered on and did it for the party,” said an RNC staffer who has known Spicer for several years. “He will always have my respect for trying to do as honorable a job as he could in a very difficult situation, at best. Very few people understand how hard that job is to do to begin with and how hard it has been to do under this president. I didn’t think he (Spicer) would last three months. But he really is a team player.”
(Democrats, including Maxine Waters, praised Spicer for quitting and encouraged Sessions to follow suit, but that shoe hasn’t dropped yet.)
Meanwhile, Scaramucci finds himself trying to define how the White House interacts with an increasingly belligerent press corps that has grown weary of off-camera briefings and no press conferences by the President.
He wouldn’t say when the President would next meet with the full press, but Scaramucci said Trump is one of the best communicators he knows and should do so soon. Scaramucci also pledged to be transparent and factual with the media, but balked at acknowledging the administration couldn’t–or shouldn’t–try to control the press.
Scaramucci told me a lot had changed over the years and indicated the administration would have no problem continuing to tell the media how to report the news. Which leaves the administration back where it began when Spicer showed us a picture and told us to believe the President and not our own eyes: reality is what Trump says it is–and anyone who thinks otherwise runs the risk of joining the bread lines.
Or as Roger Daltrey once told us: “Meet the New Boss. Same as the old boss.”