Mooch, we hardly knew you.
After less than two weeks, walking gaffe machine Anthony Scaramucci was removed from his role as White House communications director on Monday in what marks the shortest tenure yet for a Trump administration official.
Scaramucci’s ouster comes with trimmings fit for a soap opera. After promising to root out all the West Wing leakers in graphic terms and scrubbing his Twitter account of past messages disparaging his new boss in the Oval Office, Scaramucci went off-message in spectacular fashion during an expletive-filled rant against then-Chief of Staff Reince Priebus to the New Yorker. The next day, the New York Post reported that Scaramucci’s wife and the mother of his newborn, Deirdre Ball, had filed for divorce. The sale of his investment firm SkyBridge Capital, initiated in January in the hopes of securing a White House post, remains in the balance.
Scarmucci entered the Trump administration less with a wife, high-powered job and a company. He departs it with nothing.
The bombastic communications director’s departure was particularly abrupt, but there are many flavors of Trump administration flame-outs. Some, like Scaramucci’s predecessor Mike Dubke, simply resigned. Some, like former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, were Obama administration holdovers forced out over ideological disagreements. And others, like the Mooch, were Trump loyalists felled by in-fighting.
To keep things simple, here is a rundown of the staffers explicitly forced out by the administration thus far.
Acting Attorney General Sally Yates was dismissed in late January hours after ordering the Justice Department not to defend Trump’s immigration executive order barring immigrants and refugees from a handful of majority-Muslim countries. The swift decision was announced in a statement calling Yates “an Obama Administration appointee who is weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration.”
Yates, a career federal prosecutor, later revealed to the New Yorker that she received no warning from the administration about the travel ban rollout and spent the chaotic weekend after it went into effect scrambling to craft an official DOJ response. She got a degree of revenge against the administration when she testified before the Senate about her repeated, unheeded warnings to the White House about former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s inappropriate contacts with Russian officials.
National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was the next to go. Though the Trump administration reportedly had no qualms about bringing on a national security adviser who was under DOJ investigation for his foreign lobbying work, a steady stream of damaging stories about Flynn’s contacts with Russians ultimately prompted Trump to ask for his resignation just before Valentine’s Day.
Trump, who reportedly does not like confronting his subordinates with tough news, dispatched chief strategist Steve Bannon to ask Flynn to step down. Trump has defended Flynn to the press in the months since, and former FBI director James Comey even testified that the President asked him, during a one-on-one meeting, to let the federal Flynn investigation go. Flynn remains under federal investigation for his contacts with Russian officials and lobbying on behalf of Turkey.
The powerful U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York made the terms of his departure clear. In a tweet sent out after Trump announced in March that all Obama-era U.S. attorneys had to resign, Preet Bharara said he did not resign and was instead “fired.”
Trump had promised Bharara that he would keep him in his post during a November Trump Tower meeting. The outspoken former U.S. attorney has since become a sharp thorn in the President’s side, critiquing his policies on cable news and opining on the federal investigation into Russia’s election interference.
Removing the FBI director is a consequential decision no President takes lightly. Which is why Trump dispatched his former bodyguard-turned-White House aide Keith Schiller to deliver a note to FBI headquarters letting James Comey know he’d been canned. Comey was visiting agents in Los Angeles at the time and learned of the news on TV in front of his staff; he initially thought it was a prank.
Chaos ensued in D.C., where an unprepared White House staff first said they had no remarks before defending the firing in late-night TV appearances. Then-White House press secretary Sean Spicer huddled in the bushes outside the White House, fielding off-camera questions from reporters.
Comey ultimately went public about several inappropriate requests the President made of him in private meetings by having a friend leak memos to the press and testifying before Congress. His revelations resulted in the appointment of a special counsel to oversee the Russia probe.
The media found out that senior assistant press secretary Michael Short was getting the boot before he did. In his early crusade against leakers, Scaramucci revealed to the press that he was planning to fire longtime RNC hands like Short. Asked about the rumors, Short said “the entire premise is false.”
Scaramucci then said the rumors of Short’s firing, which he started, were an unfortunate leak that upset him “as a human being and as a Roman Catholic.”
Perhaps sensing he was not long for the West Wing, Short promptly resigned.
After defending Trump throughout the 2016 campaign and taking a senior post in his administration, the White House chief of staff’s tenure came to an inglorious end on Friday. Scaramucci successfully convinced Trump that Priebus’ inability to contain leaks and coordinate legislation with Congress rendered him a liability, and that a change needed to be made.
Though Priebus insisted he actually tendered his resignation on Thursday, the day after Scaramucci called him a “paranoid schizophrenic” and threatened to sic the FBI and DOJ against him for leaking, Priebus gamely attended an anti-gang violence event in Long Island on Friday without giving any public indication of his plans to depart. He was officially terminated by Trump via Twitter while still on the airpot tarmac returning from that trip, and drove away in a black SUV alone.
Priebus spent that night and much of the weekend praising the President’s wise decision to let him go.
“[Trump] has the best political instincts,” Priebus told CNN. “He knows, I think, intuitively, when things need to change. He intuitively determined that it was time to do something differently and I think it was right.”