Scaramucci, one week in: civil war in the White House and an even wilder Trump

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Its been one helluva week in the White House, and, like a shot of adrenaline, the president has found the arrival of his Mini-Me invigorating

If looks could kill. There is Anthony Scaramucci going full alpha male: chest out, shoulders back, thumbs on belt, feet planted solidly apart, eyes fixed in a deadly stare. There is Reince Priebus, less obviously macho but with a face like thunder as he glares back, a yawning chasm between them. Many historic photographs have been taken in the Oval Office, but few have captured mutual loathing so indelibly.

Scaramuccis first week at the White House was one for the ages. The new communications director declared war on Priebus, branding him a fucking paranoid schizophrenic in what appeared to be a brazen play for his job as chief of staff which, late on Friday, went instead to Gen John Kelly, the homeland security secretary. He roared from TV studio to TV studio, offering his street fighters defence of Donald Trump and vowing to take out leakers. And not least importantly, he seemingly jolted the president back into his most unfettered, unscripted, offensive and authentically Trump-like self.

Indeed, just as Trump was an agent of disruption in the Republican party, so Scaramucci has run riot in the White House. Hes in a supernova phase at the moment, said William Cohan, an author who has known Scaramucci personally for seven years. Hes burning so bright and hot in the feeling that waiting out his foes has paid off.

Six months into the Trump administration, Scaramucci exploded like a new character in the second series of a TV drama designed to unsettle the cast and spice up storylines. The slick-haired wolf of Wall Street has been unleashed in Washington, a comparatively sedate government town, to bring his shtick to the political class. The Mooch is, as New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd put it, a self-promoter extraordinaire and master salesman who doesnt mind pushing a bad product and probably sees it as more fun.

In his first encounter with the press on 21 July, Scaramucci was smooth and self-assured, blowing a kiss and claiming that he and Priebus were like brothers who roughed each other up once in a while. The former hedge fund manager said his start date would be in a couple of weeks so he could be 100% totally cleansed and clean of business conflicts, but it was soon clear that he was working at full throttle.

Scaramucci deleted past tweets that showed him expressing admiration for Hillary Clinton and contradicting Trump on everything from climate change to gun control. He was all over the Sunday political TV shows with typical brio aimed at one viewer: his boss. On CBSs Face the Nation, for example, he said of Trumps hopes for healthcare legislation: I dont know if hes going to get what he wants next week. But hes going to get what he wants eventually. Becausethis guy always gets what he wants. OK?What I know about President Trump is that … hes got very, very good karma.

Scaramucci rapidly began a crusade to purge the White House of staff who have been leaking like a sieve since Trump became president. Im going to fire everybody! he warned. But the first leaker turned out to be the Mooch himself.

Trump
Trump at the 2017 National Boy Scout Jamboree. Photograph: Steve Helber/AP

On Tuesday, Politico reported that assistant press secretary Michael Short had been sacked, as confirmed by Scaramucci. Short then came forward to say no one had told him. Almost an hour later, Scaramucci, sporting blue-tinted aviator sunglasses, told reporters that the leak about Shorts dismissal really upsets me as a human being and as a Roman Catholic, conveniently forgetting that he was the source. That afternoon, Short announced his resignation.

Wednesday began with more TV interviews including Trumps favourite show, Fox and Friends. What I dont like about Washington is that people dont let you know how they feel, Scaramucci said. Theyre very nice to your face and then they take a shiv or a machete and stab you in the back. Im a Wall Street guy, Im more of a front-stabbing person.

That night, he went to a dinner with guests from central casting of liberal nightmares: Trump and his, first lady Melania Trump; Fox News host Sean Hannity and former Fox News executive Bill Shine. The gathering had not been listed on the official White House schedule. When word of it broke via the New Yorker magazines Ryan Lizza, Scaramucci called him to demand who had leaked it, then became convinced that it must be Priebus. According to Lizzas jaw-dropping account, Scaramucci predicted that the chief of staff would be asked to resign very shortly and said: Reince is a fucking paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoiac.

Scaramucci was also incensed that his financial disclosure form had been made public and again appeared to blame Priebus. But it was not a leak: it was released after a public records request by Politico. On Thursday morning, Scaramucci denied that he was blaming Priebus. He told CNN:Some brothers are like Cain and Abel. Other brothers can fight with each other and get along. I dont know if this is reparable or not, that will be up to the president.

Scaramucci is said to bear a grudge towards Priebus for freezing him out of the administration when Trump became president in January and continuing to resist his appointment as director of communications last week. In his interview with Lizza, Scaramucci also used expletives to describe Steve Bannon, the chief strategist, who had also sought to block him. Scaramucci said he was not like Bannon because Im not trying to suck my own cock.

As Washington reeled from the vulgar outburst and digested his torrid first week, it seemed that the Mooch whose backers include Trumps daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner was loving every moment. Speaking from New York, Cohan, 57, said: Hes like Trump himself. I dont think Trump ever expected to win. I dont think Anthony ever expected to be at the centre of the White House.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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