Ousted White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci criticized President Donald Trump’s unwillingness to single out white nationalist and white supremacy groups in addressing the violence that erupted Saturday in Charlottesville.
“I wouldn’t have recommended that statement. I think he needed to be much harsher as it related to the white supremacists and the nature of that,” Scaramucci told George Stephanopoulos, referring to his former boss’s broad and vague condemnation of hatred and violence.
Scaramucci’s appearance Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” marked his first interview since his brief tenure as communications director ended abruptly about two weeks ago.
Trump has been widely criticized, including by members of his own party, for not singling out white nationalists and white supremacists in his condemnation on Saturday after hundreds of neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members clashed with counterprotesters in Charlottesville.
In a brief speech at his resort in Bedminster, N.J., Trump condemned “hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.” He did not mention whose hatred and bigotry he was condemning – even after a car plowed into counterprotesters, killing a 32-year-old woman and injuring 19.
Arrested for second-degree murder and other charges was 20-year-old James Alex Fields Jr. of Ohio. A photograph shows Fields standing among members of Vanguard America, a group associated with the white supremacy movement, although the organization has denied that he’s a member.
During the ABC interview, Scaramucci said he disagrees with his former boss over the vague statement on Saturday.
“He likes doing the opposite of what the media thinks he’s going to do,” Scaramucci said. “I think he’s also of the impression that there’s hatred on all sides, but I disagree with it.”
He also said that Trump’s aides and advisers are “probably reluctant” to be truthful with him and suggested that the president’s eldest daughter, Ivanka, and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, would be the ones who can do that.
“I don’t think you’re going to change the president,” Scaramucci said. “The president’s going to do what he wants to do, how he wants to do it, but I think it’s important for the people around him to give them direct advice, to be blunt with him.”
Scaramucci went on to criticize Trump’s chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, saying the president has to “move away from that sort of Bannon-bart nonsense.”
“It’s not serving the president’s interests. He’s got to move more to the mainstream,” Scaramucci said. “He’s got to be more into where the moderates are and the independents are, George, that love the president.”
Trump fired Scaramucci, a wealthy New York financier, on July 31, just days after naming him as communications director. The Washington Post reported that the move was at the request of new White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly.
Scaramucci’s brief tenure had been marked by turmoil as he feuded publicly with then-White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus. Scaramucci’s arrival at the White House prompted press secretary Sean Spicer to resign in protest, The Post’s Abby Phillip and Damien Paletta wrote.
After he was named to the West Wing post, Scaramucci vowed to crack down on the stream of leaks coming from the White House, saying he was willing to “fire everybody.”
(c) 2017, The Washington Post · Kristine Phillips, John Wagner