How Trump Really Fires People

The new White House communications director may have the look and mannerisms of The Sopranos’ Christopher Moltisanti, but he’s less effective as a hitman. Anthony Scaramucci claims that he’s a front-stabbing kind of guy, which must be why his effort to exact revenge on White House chief of staff Reince Priebus lacks the slightest hint of stealth.

Yesterday, Politico reported that Mr. Scaramucci makes a lot of money and hasn’t divested from his investment firm, which they figured out by looking at the financial disclosure form that he filed with the government on June 23rd after he took a position with the Export-Import Bank. You see, this is public information that anyone can request after it has been on file for thirty days. Reporters tried to explain this to Scaramucci but he stopped responding to their emails because he’d already tweeted out to the world his conspiracy theory that Priebus was behind the Politico article and promised to send the FBI after him.

Asked why he thought the report had been leaked illegally, Mr. Scaramucci responded by text: “They aren’t in process yet.” But when told his form could be released on July 23, he did not respond further.

In an interview on Fox News earlier in the day, Mr. Scaramucci complained about leaks and Washington’s backstabbing culture.

“What I don’t like about Washington is people do not let you know how they feel,” he said. “They’re very nice to your face and then they take a shiv or a machete and they stab it in your back. I don’t like it. I’m a Wall Street guy, and I’m more of a front-stabbing person, and I’d rather tell people directly how I feel about them than this sort of nonsense.”

So, some people might have thought that having falsely accused the president’s right-hand man during his first week on the job Scaramucci would lie low for a while. But that’s not how front-stabbers operate. He called in to CNN this morning and said that Priebus is “his brother” but that “some brothers are like Cain and Abel.” He also suggested that only modern norms prevent him from seeing Priebus strung up from the nearest flagpole. People “would have been hung for these leaks 150 years ago” Scaramucci declared, while asserting that “The fish stinks from the head.”

It’s true that Priebus intervened back during the transition to prevent Trump from hiring Scaramucci to a position in the administration, and it’s also true that Priebus vocally opposed the hiring of Scaramucci as the new communications director. It may even be true that Priebus has leaked things that the president did not want leaked. But there’s no reason to suspect that Priebus was behind Politico’s reporting on Scaramucci’s financial disclosure form. And, even if he was, all he needed to say was that the information is now publicly available.

So, now Scaramucci wants Priebus gone which must mean that Trump wants Priebus gone. But Trump doesn’t fire people in real life the way he does on The Apprentice. In real life, he hires wannabe mobsters to sloppily attack people using false allegations. Or, in Jeff Sessions’s case, he just insults them in public in the hope that they’ll quit on their own.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly and the main blogger at Booman Tribune.