Former Donald Trump aide Anthony Scaramucci tore into White House chief of staff John Kelly, accusing him of blocking his access to the president at the White House and Davos and driving away Mr Trump’s most-important advisers at a critical moment when the White House is in chaos.
“Does the president want to lose everyone because of General Jackass?” Mr Scaramucci said Thursday in an interview with Bloomberg News.
Mr Scaramucci says he now fears general Kelly will thwart his bid to sell his stake in SkyBridge Capital to China’s HNA Group Co. The sale has been stuck at the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US, which reviews foreign acquisitions of domestic businesses for security risks.
“Let’s see what he says about that,” Mr Scaramucci said. “That’ll be the next food fight. ‘Say, his company is before CFIUS right now. Are you going to block that deal?’”
Mr Scaramucci reached the agreement to sell his stake to the Chinese conglomerate in January 2017 as he was shedding business conflicts to take a job in the Trump administration.
A White House official who requested anonymity to respond to the accusations said Kelly wouldn’t interfere with a national security review because of a personal dispute, adding that transactions are judged against established standards. Mr Scaramucci hasn’t been blacklisted from White House grounds and would be allowed access for legitimate, official business on the same basis as other former staff members, the official said.
The former aide’s fury with Mr Trump’s chief of staff has been well-known since his dismissal on Kelly’s first day managing the White House. Mr Scaramucci lost the job less than two weeks after he had been hired, largely over a tirade against then-chief strategist Steve Bannon.
Now Mr Scaramucci is at it again, but this time the target is Mr Kelly – making him one of the chief f staff’s most high-profile critics at a time when some other loyalists are questioning whether the president is being ill-served by the chief of staff, who has limited his access to some of his closest allies from the campaign.
“There will be a further evacuation of talent,” Mr Scaramucci said in the interview.
“The guy is a bad dude,” Mr Scaramucci said of Mr Kelly. “Fear and intimidation doesn’t work in a civilian organisation. If he had any honour he’d resign.”
He also said he doesn’t mind being quoted insulting Mr Kelly. “At least I’m an honest front-stabbing dude,” he said.
After early positive views that Mr Kelly brought order to the Trump White House, there have been a series of departures, including communications director Hope Hicks’ Wednesday announcement that she is resigning and the departure of staff secretary Rob Porter amid allegations of domestic violence.
Mr Scaramucci claims Kelly has been blocking his access to the president. He said he was prevented from attending a gathering Trump went to with business executives at the World Economic Forum in Davos. He also said he was blocked after having been invited to a meeting at the White House with a top Trump aide.
The White House official also denied the charge that Mr Kelly prevented Mr Scaramucci from receiving an invitation to the Davos event.
Mr Scaramucci called for Kelly’s resignation last month after the disclosures that Mr Porter kept his job with access to top secret information despite a background investigation that revealed allegations of domestic abuse by two of Mr Porter’s ex-wives.
“Based on FBI testimony, White House chief of Staff John Kelly almost certainly knew about credible allegations of domestic abuse against Rob Porter at least 6 months ago – then recently forced others to lie about that timeline,” Mr Scaramucci tweeted on Feb. 13. “Inexcusable. Kelly must resign.”
He also took aim at Mr Kelly during a brief interview on Fox News Wednesday night, then again during an appearance on CNN on Thursday morning.
“You have no idea how many people from the White House have texted me this morning saying thank you for saying that,” Mr Scaramucci said. “Hopefully the president will wake up and knock off the nonsense.”
“If you want to kill Trump loyalists because you’re into martial law, go ahead and do that,” Mr Scaramucci said. “But it’s not helping the president.”