Alternative fact of the week: Welcome to the White House, Mooch
Jul 27, 2017 | 1:25 PM
In a now-deleted tweet, Scaramucci seemed to imply Priebus had leaked a public disclosure form. (July 27, 2017)
Our view: Alert the Justice Department. Call the FBI. Fire the West Wing. Anthony Scaramucci just discovered a public financial disclosure form posted on the Internet
You know how with new employees you wonder how they'll fit in? Within days of taking over as President Donald Trump's communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, dove right in, not only replicating his boss in style and substance (the hand gestures are already a perfect match, as a recent viral video from Comedy Central confirms) but in outrageous claims unsupported by the facts. Congratulations, The Mooch, you earn alternative fact of the week honors in your first week in office (and extra points for using Twitter, the president's favorite medium, to do so).
So what exactly happened? Mr. Scaramucci was outraged to discover that details of the financial disclosure form he was required to fill out when he worked for the Export-Import Bank showed up on the the website, POLITICO, this week. He immediately promised to not only track down the offender he presumed had leaked the document but to have him or her prosecuted. "In light of the leak of my financial disclosure info which is a felony. I will be contacting @FBI and the @TheJusticeDept #swamp @Reince45" he tweeted Wednesday.
Notice that "@Reince45" business? In Twitter, that means Mr. Scaramucci wanted to make sure Chief of Staff Reince Priebus received the message — and more about that in a moment. Meanwhile, it's clear that the communications director, a man who earned $5 million from the Ex-Im Bank while still taking down about $4.9 million from SkyBridge Capital, the Wall Street hedge fund in which he retains an ownership stake, thought it was a felony for the general public to know this stuff. The problem? POLITICO published a public document — anyone was welcome to view the disclosure simply by making a request.
Better cancel that FBI investigation. Attorney General Jeff Sessions can get back to threatening cities that dare to make their own judgments about law enforcement priorities (or perhaps he can read the latest Twitter bashes from the boss). As far as we can tell, journalism is not yet a federal offense.
We don't blame Mr. Scaramucci for being frustrated by information leaked out of the White House. There has been a ton. But it's probably unwise to claim the sharing of legal disclosures is a felony and jump to all sorts of conclusions without even bothering to discover the facts. Further, it's pretty obvious that he believes Mr. Priebus is doing much of the leaking, although he denied that tagging Mr. Priebus was an outright accusation in a subsequent tweet ("Wrong! Tweet was public notice to leakers that all Sr Adm officials are helping to end illegal leaks. @Reince45.")
Wrong! Tweet was public notice to leakers that all Sr Adm officials are helping to end illegal leaks. @Reince45 pic.twitter.com/AB0reseuX1
Should Americans believe that? Let's just say there's reason to be skeptical. Mr. Scaramucci has also admitted he and the chief of staff have had their differences. On CNN Thursday, he continued to strongly imply that Mr. Priebus was at the center of things. "And 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," he said.
Not since Sean Spicer bashed the press corps for putting greater credence in uncontrovertible photographic evidence of inauguration attendance instead of blindly accepting President Trump's preposterous claim of record crowds has a communications staffer taken to heart so immediately and thoroughly the White House philosophy of truth. (Mostly that it's whatever serves Mr. Trump's interests at the moment.) It isn't just Mr. Priebus who needs to watch his back, The Mooch might be the next Kellyanne Conway.