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Smooth Scaramucci not afraid to court controversy

Mr Anthony Scaramucci, handpicked by President Donald Trump, is said to have a temper.
Mr Anthony Scaramucci, handpicked by President Donald Trump, is said to have a temper.PHOTO: REUTERS

New White House comms director loathes backstabbing, but 'will do it from the front'

He does not believe in backstabbing - in his own words, Mr Anthony Scaramucci does it from the front.

"The Mooch" - as the new White House communications director is popularly known - is pugnacious and not afraid to court controversy.

In an interview last week with BBC, the Long Island native said: "One of the things I cannot stand about this town is the backstabbing that goes on here" he said.

"Where I grew up… we are 'front stabbers'. We like to tell you exactly where we are from and what we are doing."

The Harvard-educated Mr Scaramucci, 53, handpicked by President Donald Trump, also looks the part, which Mr Trump is said to appreciate: He is slick and smooth, a fast talker with a pearly smile and a penchant for expensive suits.

Mr Scaramucci, a former Wall Street financier worth US$58 million (S$79 million), said goodbye with a flying kiss during his first media appearance in his new White House role.

But he has a temper, those who know him said. One political insider said when word got around on July 21 that he had been picked for the White House job, the joke in New York City was: Give him three months before he publicly explodes.

 

HEAD-ON APPROACH

One of the things I cannot stand about this town is the backstabbing that goes on here. Where I grew up… we are 'front stabbers', we like to tell you exactly where we are from and what we are doing.

MR ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, the new White House communications director, on the less savoury aspects of Washington.

CALCULATED

That was Scaramucci signalling to the President, 'I have your back. Watch this, I am going to put on a show.'... He got what he wanted. He established his loyalty to the President, Priebus was out, Bannon got a warning. And Trump loves it.

A POLITICAL INSIDER, on how Mr Scaramucci knew what he was doing when he called a New Yorker journalist.

They did not have to wait that long. Less than a week into his job, the communications director himself became the story, with a jaw-dropping expletive-laced rant to a New Yorker journalist.

"He knew what he was doing when he called the reporter," the insider told The Straits Times on condition of anonymity, referring to the tirade in which he insulted former chief of staff Reince Priebus and chief strategist Steve Bannon.

"That was Scaramucci signalling to the President, 'I have your back. Watch this, I am going to put on a show.' In New Jersey, they do this all the time. He got what he wanted. He established his loyalty to the President, Priebus was out, Bannon got a warning. And Trump loves it."

Mr Scaramucci began his career at Goldman Sachs and later started an investment company, Oscar Capital Management, which he sold in 2001. In 2005, he started Skybridge Capital, an asset management firm with a US$7.1 billion portfolio.

He also did a spell on TV as host of a show called Wall Street Week and wrote three books, including Over The Rabbit Hole, a 2016 Wall Street Journal-listed bestseller.

Mr Scaramucci sold Skybridge in January in anticipation of a White House job after doing an about-turn and supporting Mr Trump, whom he once called a "hack politician".

But he found himself blocked by Mr Priebus. Last Friday, he got his revenge - Mr Priebus was replaced.

But the day also brought a report that his wife, Ms Deidre Ball, 38, had filed for divorce.

Married in 2014, they have two children. The New York Post reported that she had filed for divorce "after getting fed up with his ruthless quest to get close to President Trump, whom she despises".

The paper quoted a source saying: "She is tired of his naked ambition, which is so enormous that it left her at her wits' end."

Last Friday, Mr Scaramucci tweeted: "Leave civilians out of this. I can take the hits, but I would ask that you would put my family in your thoughts and prayers and nothing more."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 31, 2017, with the headline 'Smooth Scaramucci not afraid to court controversy'. Print Edition | Subscribe