The White House communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, sent out a cryptic tweet Wednesday night that seemed to call out the White House chief of staff, Reince 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,” Scaramucci’s tweet said.
After several political commentators and news websites speculated that Scaramucci may have been threatening Priebus, Scaramucci tweeted again: “Wrong! Tweet was public notice to leakers that all Sr Adm officials are helping to end illegal leaks.”
He also deleted the original post:
- Screenshot via Twitter
Scaramucci’s initial message appeared to refer to a Politico story published Wednesday that revealed details about his financial-disclosure form.
The report said Scaramucci earned $4.9 million from his stake in the investment firm SkyBridge Capital and a salary of more than $5 million from January 2016 to June 2017.
There have long been rumors of turmoil between Scaramucci and Priebus, and Scaramucci’s introduction as White House communications director led to speculation that Priebus’ job may be on the line.
According to several reports, both Priebus and Sean Spicer were vehemently against Scaramucci’s hiring – Spicer resigned as White House press secretary on the day the new hire was announced.
CNN contributor Ryan Lizza said Wednesday night that Scaramucci blamed Priebus “for blocking him at every turn” when he tried to get a job in the White House soon after President Donald Trump was elected.
Lizza said Scaramucci tried to go around Priebus to talk to Trump and later blamed Priebus “for canceling three scheduled meetings with the president” before Scaramucci was eventually hired as communications director.
Priebus previously sought to downplay suggestions that he was at odds with Scaramucci. He appeared on Fox News host Sean Hannity’s program last week to say that rumors he and Scaramucci didn’t “like each other” were untrue. In Scaramucci’s first appearance in front of the White House press corps in his new role last week, he said he and Priebus “are a little bit like brothers, where we rough each other up once in a while, which is totally normal for brothers.”
Back to the leaks
CNN reporter Evan Pérez threw cold water on Scaramucci’s claim that leaks of his disclosure information were a felony, saying “financial disclosure forms are filed with the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) and are not classified.”
Still, US Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores backed Scaramucci in a statement released Wednesday night.
“We have seen an astonishing increase in the number of leaks of classified national security information in recent months,” she said. “We agree with Anthony that these staggering number of leaks are undermining the ability of our government to function and to protect this country.”
She continued: “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.'”
Trump has also publicly denounced leaks of unflattering revelations about his team, which is deeply embroiled in an FBI investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 US election and whether it colluded with the Trump campaign.
Scaramucci’s deleted tweet seemed to loosely resemble the types of attacks Trump has leveled against his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, over the past week.
In a series of tweets and public statements, Trump has rhetorically strong-armed Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia investigation, calling him “beleaguered” and accusing him of taking a “very weak position” on matters involving Trump’s former Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.
He left open Sessions’ fate within his administration on Tuesday, saying “time will tell” what happens next.