WASHINGTON (TNS) — Anthony Scaramucci, the brash New Yorker who was announced just 10 days ago as President Donald Trump's incoming communications director, was ousted on Monday as new White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly moved quickly to exert control over a chaotic administration.
Kelly told Scaramucci about 9:30 Monday morning that he was out of the job that he hadn't yet officially assumed, according to a person close to the White House. That was about the time that Kelly, the former Homeland Security secretary, was sworn in as chief of staff to replace the displaced Reince Priebus — and a few hours after Trump had tweeted "No WH chaos!"
While Scaramucci's time at the center of the president's circle was short, it was consequential, prompting Priebus' departure on Friday and, a week before that, Sean Spicer's resignation as White House press secretary. Both men had counseled Trump against naming Scaramucci given what they considered his unsuitability for the job.
Scaramucci, a former hedge fund executive who enjoyed the limelight, had come on strong in his brief tenure, highlighted by a profane tirade against Priebus and White House strategist Stephen K. Bannon in an exchange last week with a reporter for New Yorker magazine.
In a statement announcing the development, the White House said Scaramucci "felt it was best to give Chief of Staff John Kelly a clean slate and the ability to build his own team."
In recent days, Scaramucci, known as "the Mooch," seemed to revel in a new nickname, Trump's "Mini-me," that was in wide circulation and reflected their similarities as outspoken wheeler-dealers from New York. Yet Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump took issue with Scaramucci's conduct and "found it inappropriate for a person in that position."
The abrupt shift, however, reflected Kelly's arrival and the mission for the retired Marine general to bring order to the chain of command within the White House; cutting Scaramucci was reportedly a condition for his taking the chief of staff job.
That change amounted to undoing Trump's own hiring decision. Scaramucci publicly said he would report directly to the president although communications directors typically report to the chief of staff like everyone else on staff.
Sanders confirmed Kelly's power, one that Priebus didn't enjoy: "General Kelly has the full authority to operate within the White House and all staff will report to him."
Before coming to the White House a week and a half ago, Scaramucci had been appointed to a senior role at the Export-Import Bank, a relatively obscure agency, but he won't be returning to that job.
"He does not have a role at this time in the Trump administration," Sanders said.
Scaramucci's sacking, in the wake of the other recent resignations, as well as speculation about the fate of Bannon, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and national security adviser H.R. McMaster, reflects a moment of extreme turbulence in the White House. The staff has been embroiled in infighting as factions struggle to respond to Trump's low poll numbers, a floundering legislative agenda and the investigations into Russian election meddling, possible Trump campaign collusion and obstruction of justice by the president.
After word spread of Scaramucci's ouster, Spicer, who despite his resignation had stayed on to help with the transition to his replacement, walked out of his office to a throng of reporters.
"Is this a surprise party?" he asked.