Anthony Scaramucci’s first appearance behind the White House podium could hardly have gone more differently than Sean Spicer’s.
Where Spicer struggled to defend the indefensible – President Donald Trump’s inauguration crowd size – Scaramucci came in on a day of chaos at the White House and painted a picture of relative calm. Where Spicer was the angry bulldog, Scaramucci worked the press room for more than 30 minutes, ending it by blowing a kiss at reporters as he walked out.
“I love the president and I’m very, very loyal to the president, and I love the mission that the president has,” he said.
He sparred with reporters about the concept of “fake news,” shooting back with a recent controversy with CNN. He played to Trump directly, saying the president has good karma and, many times, that he “love[s]” Trump. He noted that he had written a best-selling book.
Welcome to the Anthony Scaramucci show. He acts like Trump. Sounds like Trump. He looks like the guy Trump wants representing his White House. The 30-minute briefing was decidedly Trump-ian.
Scaramucci may be an imperfect choice to be the White House communications director. But he will decidedly be a communications director for the Donald Trump presidency.
There was a moment Friday afternoon when Twitter realized some of Scaramucci’s tweets of years past. He has donated to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. He once suggested there were too many guns in the United States. The Berlin Wall didn’t work, he tweeted. And he once said he hoped Hillary Clinton would run for president in 2016.
In other words, he is almost exactly like Donald Trump – a malleable businessman from New York, and an outsider to politics who will, as he suggested Friday, let the president be himself.
If there is one thing Donald Trump hates being, it is controlled. One of the president’s longtime allies rejoiced Friday upon hearing the news that Scaramucci would join the White House and Spicer was on his way out.
“Excellent news!” the ally texted.
To Trump’s allies, Scaramucci is one of them. He will be fiercely loyal to the president, in part because he is not in the same way tethered to the system that tried to bring down Trump during the 2016 election. That system includes Spicer, the former communications director at the Republican National Committee, and Reince Priebus, the former RNC chair who was reportedly incensed at Scaramucci’s hiring.
Another Scaramucci comment went around Twitter on Friday – one in which he called Trump a “hack” in 2015 while supporting Scott Walker’s candidacy. Scaramucci apologized for that comment Friday at the press briefing in a very animated way, estimating that it was the 50th time he had done so because the president brings it up “every 15 seconds.”
But even so, to another longtime Trump ally, that was “not as bad as Sean Spicer saying in September that if Trump did not improve his poll numbers the RNC would suspend its financial support of his candidacy.” That was an apparent reference to an off-record meeting in which Spicer floated the possibility, during the time the RNC was still trying to mold Trump into a more “disciplined” candidate.
Trump’s move Friday was another in a line of decisive rejections of that philosophy. There could be more coming, even as Scaramucci played nice with Priebus on Friday and said their relationship was akin to that of “brothers.”
Of Priebus, a longtime Trump ally said his ouster would only be a “matter of time.”