Ryan Lizza, Washington correspondent for The New Yorker, alleges that on Wednesday night, Anthony Scaramucci called him and demanded to know his sources so that he could get to the bottom of the White House leaks. Conveniently for Lizza, Scaramucci did not ask to be off the record.
"Who leaked that to you?" he demanded, referencing a tweet the journalist had posted earlier in the evening mentioning a "senior White House official" and a dinner Scaramucci was in attendance at alongside President Donald Trump, Fox News Anchor Sean Hannity, and former Fox News executive Bill Shine.
Senior White House official tells me that Melania was also at the dinner tonight with Trump, Hannity, Shine, and Scaramucci.— Ryan Lizza (@RyanLizza) July 27, 2017
Obviously, Lizza refused to reveal his source, so Scaramucci got angry. He threatened to fire everyone in the communications office if Lizza was not forthright about where he'd gotten his information. When that didn't work, he became cajoling.
"You’re an American citizen, this is a major catastrophe for the American country," he said. "So I’m asking you as an American patriot to give me a sense of who leaked it.”
In his write up of the incident for The New Yorker, Lizza links this to Scaramucci's embittered relationship with White House Chief of Staff Reince Preibus. In front of the cameras the two men are allies, but Lizza says that they have been "feuding for months" over Preibus reportedly blocking the wealthy entrepreneur from appointment. The bad blood between the two has helped convince Scaramucci that Preibus is behind the White House leaks.
So when Lizza asked why revealing the dinner was such a problem, Scaramucci brought it all back to Preibus.
He explained that Preibus had not been invited to the dinner and so likely had concerns about it.
“Reince is a f***ing paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoiac,” Scaramucci told Lizza. He changed his voice, pretending to be Preibus: “‘Oh, Bill Shine is coming in. Let me leak the f***ing thing and see if I can c***-block these people the way I c***-blocked Scaramucci for six months.’”
He went on to accuse the chief of staff of leaking his financial information to Politico, calling it a "felony," and even made a crude jibe at Chief Strategist Steve Bannon. He then proceeded to rant about his plans for turning the White House around, referring to himself as "The Mooch" and stating that, "This is going to get cleaned up very shortly, OK?"
Lizza said Scaramucci ended the phone conversation with another shot at Preibus: “Yeah, let me go, though, because I’ve gotta start tweeting some s*** to make this guy crazy.”
True to his word, the communications director did send out a tweet minutes later linking the disclosure of his financial information to Preibus. It quickly went viral, but he later deleted it.
When Lizza shared this exchange on CNN, Scaramucci phoned in and had his own interview with the news agency. While he acknowledged that he had indeed spoken to the journalist, he changed his story on Preibus and attempted to explain away the tweet as some sort of strategy. Also, cementing his indoctrination into the Trump White House, he blamed the media.
"When I put out a tweet, and I put Reince’s name in the tweet,” he said, “they’re all [journalists] making the assumption that it’s him because journalists know who the leakers are. So, if Reince wants to explain that he’s not a leaker, let him do that.”
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters photographer Yuri Gripas