Donald Trump’s new communications director has vowed to “fire everybody” if that is what it takes to plug leaks from the White House press office.
In a typically scene-stealing appearance on Tuesday, Anthony Scaramucci told reporters that he had the president’s backing to purge leakers who have tormented the administration so far.
“I’m going to fire everybody, that’s how I’m going to do it,” the pugnacious communications director was quoted as saying by the Washington Post.
“You’re either going to stop leaking or you’re going to get fired.”
Scaramucci gestured towards a guard booth on the outskirts of the White House campus to emphasize his threat, the Post reported.
“If they don’t stop leaking, I’m going to put them out on Pennsylvania Avenue – it’s a very clear thing.
You want to sell postcards to the tourists outside the gate or you want to work in the West Wing? What do you want to do?
If you want to work in the West Wing, you’ve got to stop leaking.”
The departures have already begun: the assistant press secretary Michael Short resigned on Tuesday.
Scaramucci told the Associated Press news agency that Short had quit under pressure.
He said he did not know Short but “the person who wanted me to fire him outranks me”.
Scaramucci told the Associated Press that he did not know if Short had leaked information and said he wished him well.
The rest of the communications staff had “amnesty” as long as they “stop leaking”, he added.
The Trump administration has been plagued by numerous leaks, especially about the investigations of his campaign’s alleged collusion with Russia.
Trump has railed against the use of “anonymous sources” – even though White House officials often brief the media on this understanding and Trump has often quoted unnamed sources himself in tweets – and demanded that leakers be brought to book.
Scaramucci, a former Wall Street financier who has little communications experience, appears to have hit the ground running since his appointment on Friday, which set off a chain reaction including the departure of the former press secretary, Sean Spicer.
Wearing blue-tinted aviator sunglasses, he spoke to a group of reporters in the White House driveway on Tuesday.
Scaramucci said he was “not doing an investigation. I’m just going to get the leaking to stop.” He emphasized: “I’ve got the authority from the president to do that.”
The Washington Post quoted him as saying: “There are leakers in the comms shop; there are leakers everywhere.
And leaking is atrocious. It’s outrageous. It’s unpatriotic. It damages the president personally. It damages the institution of the presidency, and I don’t like it. I just don’t like it.”
On Sunday Scaramucci gave several interviews to political programmes.
He promised on Fox News to begin “an era of a new good feeling” and said he hopes to “create a more positive mojo”.
The 53-year-old has deleted his own past tweets that contradict Trump’s policies.