Scaramucci upends White House balance of power

2017-07-27 22:12
White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci blows a kiss after a press briefing. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais, AP)

White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci blows a kiss after a press briefing. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais, AP)

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Washington - Fast-talking Anthony Scaramucci's appointment to a top White House post looks set to transform the balance of power in Donald Trump's faction-riven administration - if he can survive.

Last week "Mooch" stood in a second floor West Wing corridor a few steps from the Oval Office, poised to become one of the most famous, and powerful, men in America.

Killing a few minutes before everything changed, the 53-year-old shook hands with passing staff and journalists who would soon tell the world he was the new White House communications director and that ever-mocked press secretary Sean Spicer was out.

Trump's appointment of the flashy financier gives the president not just a high-profile surrogate, but one cut from the same wheeling-dealing New York cloth as himself.

Like Trump, Scaramucci can be disarmingly solicitous in private.

Like Trump, he is prone to hyperbole - bordering on bombast - in public.

Since taking on the role, Scaramucci has run to the cameras, firing up the charm and enthusiastically hawking the administration's wares, breathing new energy into the faltering administration.

Scaramucci has professed his "love" for Trump and seemingly compared the president's effort to end Obamacare with Abraham Lincoln's bid to abolish slavery.

If that flattery seems over the top, it's because - like everyone else in Trump's viper pit White House - he now has an audience of one.

In every White House, political fortunes wax and wane with proximity to the president.

Rising star

But in Trump's White House any misstep or slight - real or imagined - that irks the man in the Oval Office can be politically fatal.

One of Scaramucci's first acts in office was to delete a series of tweets from his previous life in which he was moderately critical of the president.

Aides say Trump has been enthusiastic about Scaramucci's performance.

To solidify his position in Trump's good graces, the New Yorker has vowed to root out "leaks" that have infuriated Trump and sown paranoia in his administration.

In his trademark brash style, he's made his feelings known loud and clear, threatening to fire anyone who doesn't come into line.

"I'm not firing any more people" for now, he told reporters on Air Force One on Tuesday.

But he warned that "if the leaks continue then I've got to let everybody go."

Scaramucci's stated target is to rein in the communications office, which he says will likely be restructured.

But he also knows that the most serious leaks come from much higher up in Trump's White House.

For months, damaging details have emerged about Jared Kushner, Kellyanne Conway, Steve Bannon and Reince Preibus, as the rival top White House aides jockey for power.

Priebus allies

Scaramucci has signalled his willingness to mix it up with the big players of Trump's administration.

On Wednesday night, after dining with Trump, he appeared to publicly accuse Preibus of leaking information, although that tweeted allegation was later retracted and denied.

It only fuelled West Wing rumours that Scaramucci may be destined to replace Priebus as chief of staff.

The only people to announce their departures since he arrived have been Spicer and an assistant press secretary, both of whom were staunch Priebus allies, leaving the mainstream Republican dangerously isolated.

For now, Scaramucci is riding high, but the knives will likely soon be out.

And his similarities to Trump may yet be his downfall.

The reality-TV-star-turned-president has frequently groused to staff when one of them has garnered too high a public profile.

The camera-friendly Scaramucci could yet fly too close to the sun.

Read more on:    donald trump  |  anthony scaramucci  |  us

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