Making his first appearance at a White House press briefing hours after being named President Donald Trump’s Communications Director, financier Anthony Scaramucci praised newly exited White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, saying he “loves the guy,” “applauds his efforts here” and “hopes he goes on to make a tremendous amount of money.”
In his first act as communications director, Scaramucci announced Sarah Huckabee Sanders is taking Spicer’s place as White House Press Secretary. Beleaguered Spicer resigned this morning in the wake of Scaramucci’s appointment.
Explaining his thoughts on the new job, Scaramucci used a Wall Street expression, telling the gaggle of reporters there is an “arbitrage spread between how well we are doing and how well some of you guys think we’re doing, and we’re going to work hard to close that spread.”
Asked about shedding his business interests that post a conflict in his new gig, Scaramucci said that business people brought into the administration who had “some level of success” have to “un-encumber themselves.” He called it a “mega-opportunity cost,” but insisted it’s worth it because he “loves the president” and “loves the country.”
He also “loves the team,” Scaramucci said of the White House’s press department. Calling himself an “incrementalist,” Scaramucci graphically explained, “the Navy Seals will tell you if you want to eat an elephant you got to eat it one bite at a time. And Sarah and I are going to do that together.”
Reporters were anxious to hear Scaramucci announce the return of the daily on-camera press briefings, which they have sorely missed. “If she supplies hair and makeup I will consider it,” he joked.
“I have to talk to the president about it. I like to consult with the president before making decisions like that,” he dodged.
And, you knew this was coming: Scaramucci got asked if Trump ever brings up his having called Trump a “hack politician” back in 2015 when he was supporting a different candidate.
“He brings it up every 15 seconds, okay,” Scaramucci shot back, unflapped, calling it “one of the biggest mistakes I made because I was an inexperienced person in the world of politics.”
“So. Mr. President, if you’re listening, I personally apologize for the 50th time for saying that,” he said – because of course Trump was watching.
“Here’s the wonderful thing about the news media,” he added. “That was three minutes of my life. He’s never forgotten it – and you’ve never forgotten it.”
“But I hope some day, Mr. President, you’ll forget it,” Scaramucci said, speaking, as had Sean Spicer so many times in his brief, unhappy Trump tenure, to that Audience Of One.
CNN asked Scaramucci about POTUS calling outlets Fake News. That was rich, as Scaramucci pointed out, reminding CNN it recently had published an inaccurate report on him which it had to retract, and that he had immediately and publicly accepted CNN’s apology.
Noting he once hosted Wall Street Week for Fox Business, Scaramucci said he empathized with the press, but “there feels like there is a little bit of media bias” which he hopes he can “de-escalate and turn around and let the message from the President get out there to the American people.”
A statement from Trump about Scaramucci’s appointment, read by Sanders before Scaramucci took to the podium, explained Trump’s thinking in pushing Spicer out: “We have accomplished so much and are being given credit for so little. The good news is the people get it even if the media doesn’t.”