The financier and longtime Trump surrogate, newly installed as communications director, is eager to shake up a press operation seen as loyal to chief of staff Reince Priebus.
White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci speaks to members of the media at the White House on Tuesday. | Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
President Donald Trump’s newly appointed communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, said Tuesday that he is prepared to “fire everybody” in the White House communications shop in order to put an end to embarrassing internal leaks.
The financier and longtime Trump surrogate is eager to shake up the communications shop, which has been dominated by former Republican National Committee staffers loyal to White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, a former RNC chairman.
Scaramucci confirmed to POLITICO early Tuesday that he planned to start by dismissing assistant press secretary Michael Short at a morning meeting, but that move was apparently delayed.
Short, who initially said Tuesday that he hadn’t yet been informed of any decision, resigned Tuesday afternoon.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued a brief statement on Short’s resignation later in the day: “We are grateful for Michael’s service and wish him well in his future endeavors.”
Short’s ouster is Scaramucci’s first warning shot to White House aides who have been perceived as disloyal to the president. In an echo of Trump’s not-so-subtle warning to Jeff Sessions about his status as attorney general, Scaramucci’s vow to “fire everybody” is a warning to staffers perceived as leakers.
“I’m going to fire everybody, that’s how I’m going to do it,” Scaramucci said to reporters outside of the White House on Tuesday. “You’re either going to stop leaking or you’re going to be fired.”
He claimed to have the full authority of the president to clean out the communications shop and put his own stamp on the team. A source close to Scaramucci said that he’s planning to bring in people from the corporate communications world in addition to conservative broadcast stars.
Scaramucci also told reporters outside the White House that it “upsets” him that Short would find out about any changes to his employment through the media.
“This is the problem with the leaking,” he said. “This is actually a terrible thing. Let’s say I’m firing Michael Short today. The fact that you guys know about it before he does really upsets me as a human being and as a Roman Catholic.”
He has pledged to put a stop to the leaks that have flowed out of the White House, especially those that have come from the press operation.
Scaramucci earlier said to POLITICO that Short would be the first dismissal of many, if he’s not able to stop the leaks coming out of the communications and press shop.
“I’m committed to taking the comms shop down to Sarah and me, if I can’t get the leaks to stop,” Scaramucci told POLITICO.
During his first day in the White House on Monday, Scaramucci met with current communications staffers and warned about leaks coming from the office. “I offered amnesty in the meeting, but that decision is above my rank,” Scaramucci added.
Short said he had not been involved in any leaks. “Allegations I ever leaked anything are demonstrably false,” Short said.
Short is expected to be the first in a wave of staffers closely aligned with Priebus to be shown the door.
He was closely aligned with press secretary Sean Spicer, who resigned on Friday after Scaramucci was appointed to the communications role. Short was scorned by many of his colleagues for quitting the Trump campaign, only to rejoin as a White House staffer because of Priebus.
In a story often retold by campaign staffers, they arrived at Trump Tower one morning, months before the election, to see Short’s computer left open on his otherwise empty desk.
The next time he was seen by former campaign staffers was in January, on their first day in the White House, where some were stunned to learn that they were going to have to work alongside him or for some of the press assistants subordinate to him.
Short said he had been on a part-time assignment from the RNC and decided to return to Washington “to do my real job.” He added: “I never ceased working on behalf of the ticket.”
Scaramucci said in remarks to reporters Friday that he couldn’t guarantee who will remain in the press shop, aside from social media director Dan Scavino and communications strategist Hope Hicks, both longtime aides to Trump. He also named Sanders to succeed Spicer as press secretary.
Spicer was in the White House on Monday but spent most of the day alone in his office, according to people who were in the building.
Updated 07/25/2017 06:41 PM EDT