Anthony Scaramucci appeared at the White House podium for the first time on Friday, after being appointed by President Trump as White House Communications Director, replacing his predecessor Sean Spicer.
Scaramucci fielded a stream of questions in a smooth and affable tone, despite pointed questions from the press. He often spoke in personal terms and drew laughter from the press several times with self-deprecating jokes, blowing a kiss as he left the podium.
He expressed deep affection for the president, calling him a “wonderful human being,” and said he would work hard to close the gap between the president’s supporters and how he is seen by the media.
“I think there’s been, at times, a disconnect between the way we see the president and how much we love the president and the way some of you perhaps see the president,” he said. “We’re going to work hard to close that spread.”
“I’ve seen him in operation over the last 20-plus years. The president has really good karma, OK? And the world turns back to him. He’s genuinely a wonderful human being and I think as members of Congress get to know him better and get comfortable with him, they’re going to let him lead them to the right things for the American people.”
Questioned by a CNN reporter on how he would treat outlets that the president has considered purveyors of fake news, he complimented CNN for how it handled an inaccurate article on him — by retracting it, apologizing to him, and firing those responsible — but added, “I, sort of, don’t like the fake news.”
“There feels like there’s a little bit of media bias. And so, what we hope we can do is deescalate that and turn that around, and let’s let the — the message from the president get out there to the American people.”
Scaramucci spoke of unity within the White House — more than is portrayed in the media, and addressed press speculation of acrimony between him and the White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, calling him a “dear friend” he’s known for six years.
“We are a little bit like brothers, where we rough each other up once in a while, which is totally normal for brothers,” he said. “We are committed, as true professionals, to the team and the process of getting the administration’s message out. I think that’s going to be one of the big goals for us.”
Priebus also discussed how he would handle any friction inside the White House.
“This is the White House of the United States of America. We’re serving the president. And I want to make sure that our cultural template is that we put the president’s agenda first, which is perfect for the American people, and we serve his interests,” he said.
“And so, if we have a little bit of friction inside the White House as a result of that, it’s OK. We can all live with that. I’m a businessperson. I’m used to dealing with friction,” he said.
“If teammates don’t have disagreements about certain things, then they’re not going to get to the championship. You’ve got to get together and, you know, mix it up a little bit from time to time. I have no problem mixing it up with these — these guys. I love these guys. I respect these guys,” he said.
Asked about Steve Bannon, White House Chief Strategist and former executive chair of Breitbart News, Scaramucci called him “one of the smartest people that I know.”
“I want to work with Steve Bannon as closely as I possibly can. I have a huge, enormous amount of respect for him,” he said.
Scaramucci spoke in personal terms when he spoke about why he was taking the job, saying he regretted not serving in the military, and that this was his opportunity to serve.
“I love the president. I obviously love the country. Look at my life experience here in the country. And so it’s an honor to be here. It’s an honor to stand here, actually,” he said.
Scaramucci also fielded multiple questions from reporters on how he would handle the president’s penchant for tweeting, suggesting he would not interfere.
“I think it’s been very effective use of — reaching the American public directly. And so, listen … I welcome him continuing to do that,” he said. “I think it’s very, very important for him to express his identity, because what I have found when I travel around the country — people love him,” he said.
He addressed his own tweets criticizing the president, joking that he “brings it up every 15 seconds,” and apologizing personally.
“One of the biggest mistakes that I made because I was an inexperienced person in the world of politics. I was supporting another candidate. I should have never said that about him,” he said. “So, Mr. President, if you’re listening, I personally apologize for the 50th time for saying that.”
“But here’s the wonderful thing about the news media: That was three minutes of my life, he’s never forgotten it and you’ve never forgotten it. But I hope that someday, Mr. President, you’ll forget it.”
He pushed back on questions suggesting his hire was meant to get the White House “on track” or to “right the ship.”
“The president’s a winner, OK? And what we’re going to do is we’re going to do a lot of winning,” he said.
“What good entrepreneurs do is they start the day and they — and they go through the process. The Navy SEALs will tell you that 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,” he said, referring to Sarah Sanders, former deputy White House press secretary whom he immediately promoted to White House press secretary.
Scaramucci said he begins the job in a couple of weeks and will report directly to the president.