Mr. Scaramucci Goes to Washington: An Interview with President Trump’s Former Communications Director
Anthony Scaramucci is a former White House Communications Director for President Donald Trump. The following transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.
SCARAMUCCI: You were the kid asking me the tough questions in that Zoom call.
THE POLITIC: I was hoping you wouldn’t remember. I don’t know that they were tough questions
I’m teasing you. I could care less. And I don’t know the difference between on and off the record anyway, so what difference does it make?
I know you’re a busy man, so we’ll get started.
I can tell you about to enter the White House press corps. I gotta get ready.
My first question is about Twitter. You had this great phrase that you came up for describing the president: “Fidel Adolf Trump.” Why do you call them that?
Because he acts like a buffoonish dictator. And if you take the initials F. A. T—there’s a little bit of fat shaming in there because he’s picking on everybody. Everything’s an ad hominem attack. Joe Biden is a politician. I’m not a politician. If I was running against Fidel Adolph Trump, I wouldn’t be calling him that, but since I’m not a politician, I’ll do it. And I know how to get inside his brain and get them upset. I mean, it’s three years later, he’s still tweeting at me. You’ve never lived life until the President calls you an unstable nut job, okay?
One of the things I actually didn’t know about you is that before you became a White House communications director is that you have this really endearing story. You came from a middle class Italian American background. Your family was immigrants, and, just two generations ago, made it in New York. And you made it in Washington.
I didn’t make it in Washington: I got my ass kicked.
So what lessons would you take away from that experience?
I’m glad I went through it. It was a very rough, humiliating experience to get fired like that. I made a mistake. So I never blamed anybody but myself. I’ll give you three things to take away from my life experience. Number one: take risks. If things go wrong, that’s where you shine. I learned a lot about myself, getting my ass kicked like that, so that would be my message. Number one: take a lot of risks. Don’t be afraid to fail. Live your dream; life is short.
Something I didn’t know about you is your political involvement over the past decade.
I’ve been involved in politics since the 1980s.
Going back to 2008, you supported Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama: You gave 40 $600 to Secretary Clinton’s campaign, and then $35,000 to Senator Obama’s campaign, and you’re the mythical—
You didn’t count the wife’s donation! I probably gave over $150,000 to Barack Obama in 2008. And, and Secretary Clinton, that was really just for a friend of mine who wanted me to help her. I was less politically inclined from a philosophical perspective back then. I have written checks to Chuck Schumer, I’ve written checks to Rudy Giuliani—Democrats and Republicans. When you’re an American business person, and you want to be politically active, you give money to the candidate, not necessarily to the party.
What appealed to you about senators Obama and Clinton?
Well, Senator Obama was a unique story. I went to Harvard Law School with him and saw a lot of my friends were supporting him. I was happy to support him.
And there’s this famous TV clip read joke about playing basketball with President Obama.
Yeah, and that went wrong for me, too. That should have been a sign that I should stay out of politics because I was trying to ask him an easy layup question. He turned the phrase on me and then it didn’t go well. But you don’t have to worry about me. I got a thick skin, no problem. Do a couple things wrong. And then when you hit the floor, don’t hit the floor like you’re bone china. You need to take a little bit of dexamethasone.
[President Trump] is batshit crazy.
So after you supported President Obama in 2012, you worked as the National Finance Co-Chair for Governor Romney running against President Obama. What changed your mind about Obama?
It was nothing personal to him. I just realized that what he was doing was probably not best for me and my business. And so I sort of returned to my Republican roots—nothing personal.
But then in April 2012 you said [of Senator Clinton]: “I hope she runs. She’s incredibly competent. I like Hillary: You have to go with the best athlete. We need to turn this around.” But by 2015, you’re working for Governor Walker. What changed your mind about Secretary Clinton?
I like her. I think she’s very competent, but I’m a Republican. You know who else said stuff like that about Hillary Clinton?
I’m sure President Trump did.
Yeah. I just, I’m a lifelong Republican. So I went with the Republican. You should do the opposite of what I do. Okay? Except this time. Like me, you should vote for Joe Biden because you don’t want a demagogue lunatic running the country for another four years. But I typically have been dead wrong about all my political choices.
Yeah because I don’t care what other people think. You’re a young kid. Don’t care what other people think. Because if you care what other people think, it’ll alter your behavior and your dreams. You don’t want your dreams to look like everybody else’s. When I got fired by President Trump, he called me to see how I was doing. And I said, “Look, I’m fine. Don’t worry about me. You made me as famous as Melania and Ivanka. I didn’t even have to sleep with you or be your dog. I know how to handle myself.”
Now about the President. After working on the Finance Committee for Governor Walker and for Governor Bush, when Donald Trump became the nominee in 2015, you joined the Trump campaign finance team. The Washington Post called you “one of the first traditional Republicans to support the president.” You gave $200,000 to the RNC $100,000 to rebuilding America $150,000 to the Trump victory fund. You were on the executive committee of the Trump transition team. You represented them at Davos, so what appealed to you about the president back then?
That’s my bed. I have to own all that. Because it was a mistake. You know, he didn’t handle himself the way we thought he was capable of. You have two choices in our system, right? Let’s say you and I are on a publicly traded board. And we’re trying to hire a CEO, we only have two choices. And so what do we do? We pick the choice we think is going to be better for the country. And I’m a Republican. And so I went with the Republican choice. I didn’t think that he was going to act like that.
Knowing what you do now about the president, would you regret accepting the role as the White House Communications Director? Was that a roll of service for you?
I wouldn’t do it again, if given the chance, knowing what I know. It was a very surreal experience for me in the way that I learned a lot about Washington almost got an 11-day PhD in Washington scumbaggery. I mean, I have a better idea of how these people operate now, and what they’re really all about, and how they really don’t give a shit about the American people. And so, it’s made me wiser. I was too naive when I took that job. Trump hasn’t changed. Maybe he hasn’t changed, but I have. I’m way more careful with understanding the plight of other people, as opposed to just being myopically focused on myself and my family. And so when I see the damage that he’s causing, I don’t like it. It’s un-American to be a bully in the office of the presidency and to stand on the balcony with your mask off.
About your speaking out against the president. You co-founded the Right Side PAC; you’re supporting Vice President Biden, raising money for the Lincoln Project. How do we heal this country?
Well, it’s going to require transformative leadership. You have to get those independents to come over to that tribe and vote. You know, you know, a guy like Andrew Yang, as an example, is a very talented guy. But he was new to the scene. So I don’t think he was going to go from zero to hero in one electoral cycle, but he could be a guy next time that could have more success. Very thoughtful, very policy oriented, very, very smart guy.
But I’m mindful of your time now you have to go see and I just have two very quick questions for you. The first is you’re still a relatively young man. You still have 15-20 years left in your career. Do you ever have aspirations for public office? Could we ever see Congressman Scaramucci cleaning up Washington?
No, I’m not suited for it. I’m 56 years old. Hopefully, I get 20 to 30 years, but who the hell knows? I don’t have the personality for it. I don’t see myself ever going back to Washington. Having said that, I’m not a politician. So I don’t want to say, you’ll never see me go back to Washington and then in six months, I’m in Washington. Like, “Okay, typical jerko politician,” so I don’t know. If that was something I really wanted to do, I would have done it already. I like making money. I like bullshitting with you. But if you’re going to attack my family on the presidential Twitter feed, I’m coming guns blazing.
You’re not Ted Cruz.
I’m not Ted Cruz. I’m an Italian kid from Long Island. So you want to attack my wife on the presidential Twitter feed? We’re going to be in a bloodsport cage match.
You’ve talked about how you know people should be our young people like me shouldn’t be too worried about what other people say. But when you do retire, is there anything you want people to say about your legacy?
No, I don’t really give a shit. No one gives a shit. Does anybody know anybody from 10,000 years ago? Nobody knows. Nobody gives a shit. You think anybody’s gonna remember anybody from this era in 10,000 years: anything about Trump or Obama or you or me? There’ll be one person that people remember from this period of time and only one. So go ahead, Timothy. Who is that? Who is that person?
I don’t know. Who is it?
Neil Armstrong. That’s it. In 10,000 years, someone will say: “Back in that era, they smoked up the environment and coated the atmosphere. And so they almost destroyed the entire fucking planet as a result of their stupidity.” And they’ll be like, “yeah, but there was one guy who set foot on the moon.” Nobody else is gonna be remembered, so I don’t personally give a shit. What I do give a shit about is trying to do the right thing for myself, my family, my clients, my staff, and my country. And if that works out, great, and if it doesn’t work out, at least I made the best effort I could. Live your life with no fear and don’t be afraid to fail. How’s that?