WASHINGTON (Reuters) – US President Donald Trump ousted recently hired White House communications chief Anthony Scaramucci yesterday over an obscene tirade, sources familiar with the decision said, in the latest staff upheaval for the six-month-old administration.
The move, coming just 10 days after the Republican president named Scaramucci to the post, took place on the first day of work for Trump’s new chief of staff, retired Marine Corps General John Kelly, who sources said was seeking to impose order on a White House riven with factions and backbiting.
“There’s a new sheriff in town,” said Barry Bennett, a former Trump campaign adviser.
A Republican close to Trump said the president fretted on the weekend over what to do about Scaramucci, calling his advisers to ask their opinion, all of whom told him the tough-talking aide had to go.
Trump was annoyed about Scaramucci’s lewd comments to The New Yorker magazine published last Thursday and at how the abrasive New York financier appeared to inflate the strength of their friendship, since he had started the 2016 presidential election cycle as a fundraiser for two Trump rivals, Scott Walker and Jeb Bush.
Trump decided it was time to cut him loose, the source said. Kelly, who also wanted him removed, summoned Scaramucci to Kelly’s office yesterday morning and fired him on the spot, the official said. It was one of Kelly’s first acts as chief of staff.
“A great day at the White House!” Trump tweeted yesterday evening.
The departure of Scaramucci followed one of the rockiest weeks of Trump’s presidency in which a major Republican effort to overhaul the US healthcare system failed in Congress and both his spokesman and previous chief of staff left their jobs as White House infighting burst into the open.
Scaramucci’s comments to The New Yorker included a profanity-laced attack against then-White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon.
“The president certainly felt that Anthony’s comments were inappropriate for a person in that position,” spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters.
In a change from previous procedure at the Trump White House, all staff will now report to Kelly, including Trump’s daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner, Sanders said.
A Republican official close to the White House said Kelly had been given wide authority to impose order on the unruly Trump White House.
“Things will run with regular order,” the official said, adding that even the president’s daughter and her husband, who both have senior roles at the White House, are “not above the law.”
At a dinner on Saturday night at Trump’s hotel near the White House, Trump told Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to expect some staff changes, the official said. Kelly attended the dinner as well.
Tensions in Trump’s inner circle erupted last week when Scaramucci assailed Priebus and Bannon, two of the West Wing’s most senior figures. He accused Priebus of leaking information to the media. Priebus later resigned.
Trump appeared yesterday with Kelly in the Oval Office and in a Cabinet meeting where he predicted the new chief of staff would do a “spectacular job.” He praised Kelly for his tenure overseeing border security issues at the Department of Homeland Security.
“With a very controversial situation, there’s been very little controversy, which is really amazing by itself,” Trump said.
Republicans fear that staff chaos at the White House could derail any attempt to revive efforts to repeal and replace the Obamacare healthcare law and a plan to overhaul the US tax system.
The US dollar hit a more than 2½-year low against the euro yesterday on month-end portfolio adjustments and uncertainty over the U.S. political outlook after Scaramucci’s departure.
Aside from domestic challenges, Trump is weighing how to respond to North Korea’s latest missile test – a sore point between Washington and Beijing. Trump has been critical of China, North Korea’s closest ally, saying it should do more to rein in Pyongyang.
He is also dealing with several investigations into allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, and has been frustrated that the probes are also looking into potential collusion by his campaign. Moscow rejects the charge it tried to swing the election in Trump’s favour, and Trump denies his campaign had anything to do with such interference.