Tensions between White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus escalated Thursday, after the new communications boss vowed overnight to contact investigators over what he called a “felony” leak of his financial information, and made a cryptic reference to Priebus.
“In light of the leak of my financial disclosure info which is a felony. I will be contacting @FBI and the @TheJusticeDept #swamp @Reince45,” he tweeted, including Priebus’ handle.
The tweet followed a Politico report on the former Wall Street financier’s financial holdings. Scaramucci has since deleted the tweet and denied reports that the vow was a message to Priebus.
“Wrong! Tweet was public notice to leakers that all Sr Adm officials are helping to end illegal leaks. @Reince45,” he later tweeted, next to one such allegedly misleading report.
Scaramucci reiterated on CNN Thursday morning that he had mentioned Priebus in his original tweet because he’s responsible for helping uncover leaks.
But he kept speculation alive about a deepening rift with Priebus by saying, “If Reince wants to explain that he’s not a leaker, let him do that.”
Scaramucci made clear in the interview he and the chief of staff have “odds” and “differences” that might not go away.
“When I said we were brothers from the podium … some brothers are like Cain and Abel, other brothers can fight with each other and get along. I don’t know if this is reparable or not, that will be up to the president,” he said.
A senior administration official also suggested the tensions were real. “One of the worst things you can do to President Trump is to show insecurity. [Attorney General Jeff] Sessions showed that. Reince has showed that,” the official said.
The comments were the latest escalation in the war on leaks from the very top of the White House, now that Scaramucci has taken over the communications shop, reporting directly to President Trump.
In an interview with Fox News’ “Hannity” on Wednesday, he said, “we’re going to let people go if we have to.”
“One of the big problems that I’m discovering is that senior people are really the guys doing the leaking and they ask junior people to leak for them,” he said.
Following his appearance, Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores issued the following statement pledging to pursue these cases:
“We have seen an astonishing increase in the number of leaks of classified national security information in recent months. We agree with Anthony that these staggering number of leaks are undermining the ability of our government to function and to protect this country. Like the Attorney General has said, ‘whenever a case can be made, we will seek to put some people in jail,’ and we will aggressively pursue leak cases wherever they may lead.”
The Politico report on Scaramucci’s profits was based on a form described as publicly available upon request – so it’s unclear what about the dissemination of that information would constitute a “felony,” as Scaramucci initially claimed.
The report said the communications director stands to profit from his ownership stake in investment firm SkyBridge Capital and that he earned $4.9 million from that – on top of a salary worth roughly the same amount – between the beginning of January 2016 and June.