AP Interview: Scaramucci says don’t rule out beltway return
JERUSALEM (AP) — Anthony Scaramucci may be out at the White House, but the short-lived former communications director says his political career is not over.
Scaramucci said in an interview that although he has not spoken to Trump in over a month, he talks to members of the president’s inner circle “regularly” and sees himself working for Trump in the future.
“I have very good relationships there still, and you have to remember we were a team for 18 months, and so we all had different roles. And so I’m still playing my role frankly. I’m an advocate for the president, media surrogate when I need to be,” Scaramucci said.
Scaramucci is in Israel this week as a guest of the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce, a U.S.-based group that works with professionals, politicians and community leaders to stimulate business opportunities and influence public policy.
Scaramucci, a former Wall Street financier and successful entrepreneur, is not Jewish but said he has longstanding ties with members of the group from New York and is scouting out Israel’s vibrant high-tech sector for possible future opportunities.
While he said he is currently focused on his business dealings, he expects to return to politics by helping Trump on his re-election campaign. He said a formal role in the administration is unlikely.
“At some point I’ll probably be more involved from the outside, but more in a re-election capability than from inside the administration,” he said.
Scaramucci, a member of Trump’s campaign and transition teams, was appointed White House communications director in July. But he was fired after just 11 days on the job after he gave an expletive-laced interview to The New Yorker and made derogatory statements about several members of the Trump administration.
In the interview, he complained about unauthorized leaks coming out of the White House. The primary targets of his angry interview, the chief of staff at the time, Reince Priebus, and then-chief strategist Steve Bannon, have since left the administration.
Scaramucci, in a dark blue suit, blue tie and crisp white shirt, joked that he had expected his term at the White House to have a longer shelf-life than a “carton of milk.”
But he said he has no regrets and understands that is how politics works. He praised Chief of Staff John Kelly, who dismissed Scaramucci upon taking office, for restoring order to the White House and even claimed to have been successful during his brief stint by helping bring the issue of unauthorized leaks under control.
“We identified quickly who many of the leakers were, and they’re gone,” he said. “You and I both know the leaks are down substantially. And that’s a positive thing for the president.”
Scaramucci, known as “The Mooch,” remains a staunch defender of his former boss, including Trump’s frequent use of Twitter to “hop over” the mainstream media and reach the public. At times, Trump has come under fire for posting messages seen as inappropriate or offensive, including many that attack or belittle opponents.
“By and large, I think he’s used it very effectively,” Scaramucci said.
“He has certainly put out some tweets that are very controversial. People around him probably don’t love those tweets,” he acknowledged. “But I think he always has a reason behind what he’s tweeting. You can argue with him not to do it, but he’s going to do it anyway. So what’s the sense of that? Let him be himself.”
Underneath the unconventional exterior, Trump is a “very practical and hard-working guy,” Scaramucci said. He said that attitude would be evident when Trump presents an upcoming Mideast peace initiative.
Trump’s Mideast team, led by his son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, has been meeting with Israel, the Palestinians and Arab leaders across the region for nearly a year. Officials say they expect to present a peace proposal, though the timing remains unknown.
Scaramucci said Israelis should be “super excited” because Trump has “Israel’s best interests in mind.”
He also played down Palestinian fears that Trump is biased toward Israel. The U.S. peace team is led by Orthodox Jewish Americans with deep ties to Israel and West Bank settlements.
Scaramucci urged the Palestinians to enter negotiations with an “open mind” and give Trump a chance.
“This is an American president that is a deal-making American president, incredibly practical,” he said. “I think you’ll find him to be a very balanced and fair guy.”