President Trump has long decried the rampant leaks coming out of his White House.
Now, his new White House Communications Director, Anthony Scaramucci, has vowed to plug up every last leak–and, in order to do so, he’s declared war on members of President Trump’s own staff.
“It’s absolutely completely and totally reprehensible,” Scaramucci said, in an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Thursday morning, about the leaks that have plagued the Administration almost from Inauguration Day.
“As you know from the Italian expression, the fish stinks from the head down, but I can tell you two fish that don’t stink, and that’s me and the president. I don’t like the activity going on in the White House. I don’t like what they’re doing to my friend.”
Scaramucci was himself the victim of an alleged leak, after just days on the job: his financial disclosure was sent to the media. While it’s unclear if that would qualify legally as a leak—the disclosure is a public document, but hadn’t been officially released yet—it is clear that the action greatly angered Scaramucci.
Late on Wednesday night, it looked like Scaramucci was pointing the finger at Reince Priebus—Trump’s Chief of Staff and the former Republican National Chairman.
In a crpytic tweet, Scaramucci wrote: “In light of the leak of my financial disclosure info which is a felony, I will be contacting @FBI and the @TheJusticeDept.” At the end of his tweet, he tagged @Reince45—Priebus’s Twitter handle.
Many in the media wondered whether the inclusion of Priebus’s Twitter handle was a threat–or, at the very least, a formal notice that the Chief of Staff was suspected of orchestrating leaks from the White House.
Scaramucci denied that it was a threat, claiming that the media was making “an assumption” about why Preibus was tagged. However, he didn’t categorically deny that Preibus was the leaker–saying instead that, “If Reince wants to explain he’s not a leaker, let him do that.”
Scaramucci later deleted the tweet altogether.
Thursday morning, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway seemed to throw more gas on the fire, by again refusing to deny that top Administration officials suspected Preibus of being the White House leaker. When asked directly, she responded by saying, after a long pause, that “leakers are easier to figure out than they may think.”
Scaramucci has already dramatically shifted the narrative coming out of the White House–which has seemed to rattle many in Trump’s senior staff.
Trump’s frequently-embattled press secretary, Sean Spicer, resigned earlier this week because he disagreed with Scaramucci’s appointment. As the New York Times put it, Spicer felt that “Scaramucci’s hiring would add to the confusion and uncertainty already engulfing the White House.”
Spicer had previously worked closely with Preibus at the Republican National Committee, before the 2016 election.
With Spicer gone, Scaramucci has clearly set his crosshairs on Priebus. In his interview with Cuomo, Scaramucci compared he and Priebus to “Cain and Abel.” Cain and Abel were, of course, the two biblical brothers–whose story ended with Cain killing Abel.
Unfortunately for Priebus, Scaramucci claimed that Trump has given him his “blessing” to plug up any leaks. A source from inside the White House claimed that it was even more personal: “The president specifically gave [Scaramucci] the green light to go after [Priebus],” even taking their fight on-air if necessary.
Regardless of the intrigue inside the West Wing, Priebus continues to serve as Chief of Staff—though it’s clear that his days could be numbered.