Scaramucci challenges Priebus over leaks to the press

CERT-LatestNews ThreatsStrategic

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionEmily Maitlis talks Trump, Russia… and chicken with Anthony Scaramucci

The newly-hired communications director for US President Donald Trump says he has a “very good idea” who the “senior leakers” are at the White House.

In a quickly-deleted tweet, and in interviews on Thursday, Anthony Scaramucci appeared to point the finger at Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.

“If Reince wants to explain that he’s not a leaker, let him do that,” he told CNN in a phone interview.

“He’s gonna need to speak for his own actions”, he added.

President Trump has said that leaks from the White House are a national security threat and must stop.

The tensions between two of his top aides appeared to be made public when Mr Scaramucci tweeted on Wednesday night that his government financial disclosure form had been leaked.

Image copyright Twitter @Scaramucci

The tweet, which he subsequently deleted, ended by tagging Mr Priebus’ Twitter handle.

After journalists began reporting that the tweet was a threat, Mr Scaramucci posted: “Wrong!

“Tweet was public notice to leakers that all Sr Adm officials are helping to end illegal leaks.”

Feuding on live television

By Anthony Zurcher, BBC Washington

This is not how any of this is supposed to work. The newly installed White House communications director seemingly accusing – on Twitter! On a morning news show! – the White House chief of staff of criminal leaking.

In a White House that has been characterised by feuds and shifting centres of power, these latest developments may represent an attempt by Anthony Scaramucci – and others – to push out veteran Republican Party hands and clear the decks for Mr Trump’s more unvarnished band of outsiders.

Press Secretary Sean Spicer and one of his top assistants are already gone. Reince Priebus could be next.

There’s no telling how Mr Trump is taking all this. On one hand, he seems to have a visceral connection to Scaramucci, a brash New Yorker not unlike himself. On the other, the president hasn’t always reacted well when subordinates step into his limelight.

Where Abraham Lincoln had his famous “team of rivals” in his administration, this is something different. Trump White House seems more akin to the final scene in Reservoir Dogs, where everyone is yelling and pointing a gun at someone else, and there’s a good chance no one is going to come out unscathed.

Mr Preibus, who formerly chaired the Republican National Committee, and former White House spokesman Sean Spicer, had reportedly opposed the hiring of Mr Scaramucci.

Mr Spicer announced his resignation on the same day that Mr Scaramucci was hired.

“I don’t know if [my relationship with Mr Preibus] is repairable or not,” said Mr Scaramucci on Thursday. “That will be up to the president.”

On his first day in the job last week, he told reporters that he and the chief of staff were personal friends who like “rough each other up” once in a while. “But he’s a dear friend,” he added.

Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, who is the highest-ranking Republican member of Congress, told reporters on Thursday: “If those two men have differences, my advice would be to sit down and settle those differences.”