Former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci spoke about President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, the impeachment hearings and the 2020 election nominees with Center for the Political Future Director Bob Shrum to an audience of nearly 150 people Tuesday at the Mudd Hall of Philosophy.
Scaramucci served as the director of White House communications for 11 days in July 2017 but was fired by Trump on recommendation from Chief of Staff John Kelly following the publication of a New Yorker interview in which Scaramucci used obscenities and defamatory language, referring to then-Chief of Staff Reince Priebus as a “paranoid schizophrenic.”
“That mistake was a fireable offense. Now having said that, I did contribute to getting [former White House Chief Strategist] Steve Bannon blown out of the White House,” Scaramucci said. “Even though I said something inappropriate, I do feel like I made a historical contribution to global sanity.”
Scaramucci has authored four books about politics and finance, including “Trump: The Blue Collar President,” an analysis of Trump’s campaign and presidency interspersed with tales from Scaramucci’s own experience working with the president.
Some members of the audience remarked that Scaramucci came across more personably than they imagined he would based on public appearances during his White House tenure.
“It’s interesting to see someone you’ve seen or viewed on the news and … how they come across differently once you get into this more personalized setting where they’re no longer obligated to do anything,” said Jared Stigter, a freshman majoring in computer science. “This is his real views, this is what he says and there’s no incentive to say anything otherwise.”
Throughout the event, Scaramucci referred to himself as a “blue-collar kid” several times, referencing his New York upbringing and Italian immigrant grandparents and describing the appeal of Trump’s campaign promises to the working class. He said he was particularly struck by an interaction he had with an attendee at a rally in Albuquerque, N.M.
“[The supporter said], ‘This guy is a business guy. We saw him on ‘The Apprentice.’ He’s telling me he’s going to bring the jobs back,’” Scaramucci said. “Don’t call these people deplorable and white nationalists. Go talk to them — they just want jobs, they want their families to do better.”
Scaramucci said one of the faults of 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign was her failure to campaign in swing states like Wisconsin, where she lost the popular vote.
“You’ve got to go to Wisconsin, you’ve got to go to Michigan, you’ve got to go meet with these people,” Scaramucci said. “Go do the work. Whatever your nominee is, go do the work and meet these people.”
Scaramucci also spoke on the impeachment hearings and called the contents of the impeachment report horrifying, saying he would support the president’s impeachment and removal from office.
“It is absolute rank criminality and rank lawlessness,” Scaramucci said. “If that’s what you want in a country that is at the 243-year experiment, that has lifted so many people out of poverty and created so much opportunity, we can go in that direction. This is a rank, criminal attack on the system by a very lawless person.”
Scaramucci predicted Trump would not survive the impeachment. He also gave his opinion on the candidates for the 2020 Democratic nomination.
“I thought Kamala Harris was a very effective person, I’m surprised she flamed out. I don’t know that party as well as maybe some of the Democrats in this room,” Scaramucci said. “[Democratic nominee Elizabeth Warren] wants to revoke the system — I don’t know how that’s going to play. I think if she’s up against Trump … he’ll beat her brains in.”
Harrison Murphy, a sophomore majoring in political science, described himself as a moderate Democrat but said he respected Scaramucci’s views and the eloquence with which he expressed them.
“I thought he was kind of the antithesis of Trump in the respect that he’s kind of a compulsive truth teller rather than a compulsive liar and I respect that a lot about him,” Murphy said. “His take on how 2020 Democrats need to understand that the American people don’t want to change the system, they just want it to work for them — I think that’s very true.”
At the end of the event, Scaramucci answered audience questions, including one about the future of the Republican Party. He likened Trump to the Wicked Witch of the West in “The Wizard of Oz” and said the rest of the administration could adapt to a different member of the party.
“[Republican Party leaders] have to get over their fear, and then he’ll melt away,” Scaramucci said. “Then they can rebuild and reframe their party, and they better open the tent … make it more available to people regardless of their sexual preferences, their religious experiences or whoever they are. If they don’t do that, then [Priebus] is going to be right, and I’m telling you right now, to me it’s a fatal killshot in the next six to 12 months for that party.”