Before his sudden departure as communications adviser on July 31, Anthony Scaramucci implied in an interview that Mike Pence’s new chief of staff was hired to protect the vice president from the political turmoil roiling the Trump administration, perhaps to set up a bid for the presidency in 2020.
In an interview with the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza — the very same interview in which the Mooch said White House chief strategist Steve Bannon’s self-regard was comparable to a stunning feat of bodily gymnastics — Scaramucci called attention to the man Pence announced as his new chief of staff on June 29, Nick Ayers.
“Why do you think Nick’s there, bro?” Scaramucci asked Lizza, referring to Ayers.
“Are you stupid?” Scaramucci continued. “Why is Nick there? Nick’s there to protect the vice president because the vice president can’t believe what the fuck is going on.”
Lizza published the quotes on Tuesday.
Ayers, a longtime political operative but a novice in government, was mentioned in a recent New York Times profile on Republicans — Pence, principally — who have engaged in what the Times called “a shadow campaign for 2020.”
“Mr. Ayers has signaled to multiple major Republican donors that Mr. Pence wants to be ready” for a potential presidential bid, the Times reported.
Pence slammed the New York Times’ reporting.
But Scaramucci’s quote to Lizza — and Scaramucci’s post-facto claims that he incorrectly believed the interview was off-the-record — lends some credence to the claim that Ayers’ presence in the White House is motivated at least partly by Pence’s political ambitions.
Scaramucci did not respond to Lizza’s requests for comment, so the reporter reflected on the comment with an open question: “Was Scaramucci suggesting that Ayers was meant to protect Pence from the fallout if and when Trump collapses politically, resigns, decides not to run for reelection, or is impeached?”