Former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci said Tuesday that his vulgar and expletive-laden remarks about his Trump administration colleagues were intended as “humorous and joking” comments between friends, not as an on-the-record conversation with a reporter.
In a bombshell interview with the New Yorker published last week, Scaramucci used an expletive in referring to then-White House chief of staff a “paranoid schizophrenic.” In that same interview, Scaramucci accused White House chief strategist Steve Bannon of acting in his own self-interest, describing Bannon’s actions with a crude sexual metaphor.
Scaramucci, who was removed from his position as communications director on Monday after less than two weeks on the job, told The Huffington Post on Tuesday that he believed his conversation with New Yorker reporter Ryan Lizza would stay between them.
“The Lizzas and Scaramuccis have been friends for over 50 years. My dad knew his dad from construction, and we were building a personal relationship,” Scaramucci said. “Most of what I said was humorous and joking. Legally, it may have been on the record, but the spirit of it was off. And he knew that.”
Lizza disputed Scaramucci’s assertion that the two men are friends, although he conceded that their fathers may have known one another. And Lizza’s publication, in a statement first reported by Axios, noted that Scaramucci had requested during the conversation that certain portions be put off the record and that the magazine respected those requests, a seeming indication that the communications director understood the nature of his conversation with Lizza.
“I’ve only known Anthony in his capacity as a Trump surrogate and then White House communications director. We are not and have never been ‘old family friends,’ though I think our fathers knew each other, so maybe that’s what he’s talking about. (The Long Island Italian world in that generation is relatively small.),” Lizza wrote in an emailed comment to The Huffington Post. “But again, that would not be a reason to suppress an explosive on-the-record interview.”
Scaramucci said his conversation on Monday with newly-installed White House chief of staff John Kelly in which Kelly asked for his resignation was “very polite.” He said he also spoke by telephone later that way with President Donald Trump as well as the president’s daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump, and his son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner.
“The president told me he knows I have his back, but he has to try to tighten the ship,” Scaramucci said.