If you’re feeling down that Donald Trump’s meme-tastic spokesman Sean Spicer has quit, Anthony Scaramucci will soon have you asking: ‘Sean who?’
At least that’s what his first foray on British television suggested after President Donald Trump’s newly-appointed communications director gave an absorbing interview to the BBC’s Newsnight.
Five days into the job, the Wall Street millionaire-turn-spinner gave a bravura performance when quizzed by presenter Emily Maitlis from Washington.
The full interview, which sent late night British Twitter into a frenzy, is above and worth 11-and-a-half minutes of anyone’s time. But here are the edited highlights if you want to cut to the quick.
On Trump’s personality and ‘front-stabbing’.
Scaramucci has previously called Trump a “hack politician”, but the pair appear to have let bygones be bygones. Suggesting Republican colleagues needed to grow a backbone, he explained working with DJT meant having a “tough exoskeleton” and that the pair locking horns was just what stand-up New York guys did.
“I’m from a town right on the border of Queens,” he offered. “And the President grew up in Queens. We have a little more of a different communications style (than the UK), a little bit more direct ... probably less subtle and polite. You don’t think politicians in your home town are hitting each other left and right?”
In fact, exchanging public insults is a good thing. “One of the things I can’t stand about this town is the back-stabbing,” mused ‘The Mooch’, not unreasonably. “Where I grew up we’re front-stabbers.”
Comparing repealing Obamacare to the abolition of slavery.
“If you’ve read (famous Abraham Lincoln biography) Team of Rivals, it took Lincoln three or four times to get what he wanted from the Senate and House of Representatives which was the full abolition of slavery. That was a much tougher thing to do than what we are doing now.”
He’s not wrong.
Donald Trump: elitist? Yes and no.
Maitlis wanted to know about the contradiction between a billionaire property developer railing against the elite. Why is Trump not part of the elite?
Scaramucci: “How about the cheeseburgers? How about the pizza we’re eating?”
Maitlis: “Everybody eats cheeseburgers and pizzas, what are you talking about?”
Scaramucci: “No, no, no. See, you’re coming across a little elitist.”
When asked directly if Trump was “an elite”, Scaramucci offered this: “He’s both. He knows how to operate in an elitist world, and he has unbelievable empathy for the common struggle going on with the middle class people and lower-middle class people.”
A holding pattern on chlorine-washed chicken.
The Mooch was asked about the UK silly season story of the moment: Brexit leading to the UK importing chlorine-washed chickens from the US. He played it with an admirably straight bat.
“You and I are meeting each other for the first time,” Scaramucci informed Maitlis, leaning in and touching the respected broadcaster’s hand. “I have no idea what’s going on with the chlorine-rinsed chicken. To pretend, and make something up to you, I’m not going to do that.”
Fair enough but it wasn’t his answer that excited Twitter.
On American history.
Maitlis wanted to know if a post-Brexit UK-US trade deal would be as glorious as Trump suggested it would on Twitter. “100 per cent,” Scaramucci confirmed. “He loves the United Kingdom. Don’t you want a good trade deal for your country?”
She probably does. Anyway, he was just getting the bit between his teeth.
“Think of the special relationship we’ve had since the inception of this great nation,” he pondered, before likening American independence to Uber as it was a “disruptive start-up” where a “group of rich guys got together and said ’do you know what, we’re going to break away from the other country and start our own country’.”
That’s pretty much it.
Trump was going back to the “roots of disruption” and the man who puts ‘American First’ wanted “fair and equal trade” with the UK.