On this episode of Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher, former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci “The Mooch” talks about his infamous 11-day stint in the Trump administration, his recently announced book deal and why he thinks the president will win reelection in 2020.
You can read a write-up of the interview here or listen to the whole thing in the audio player above. Below, we’ve also provided a lightly edited complete transcript of their conversation.
Kara Swisher: Hi, I’m Kara Swisher, executive editor of Recode. I have been at my job for, I don’t know, a thousand mooches, but in my spare time I talk tech, and you’re listening to Recode Decode from the Vox Media podcast network.
Today I’m in New York City with Anthony Scaramucci, also known as The Mooch. He’s the founder of Sky Bridge Capital, and before that worked at Goldman Sachs, and started a different financial firm, Oscar Capital Management. But to most of my listeners he’s known for the 10, I guess long days he spent in the Trump White House last year. Anthony, welcome to the Recode Decode podcast. Did you ever think you’d be here?
Anthony Scaramucci: No, I never thought I’d be here, given the fact that you bombed me on Twitter.
Trolled you, it’s called.
Trolling, bombings one. I actually personally like you.
Did you like the trolling? I thought it was rather clever.
It doesn’t bother me at all.
It wasn’t mean, it was funny.
It actually doesn’t bother me at all. I think I’ve learned after my firing and my rolling in broken glass in American media that I actually have a strong conscience.
I can take just about anything.
Yeah, the media seems to like you quite a bit, Anthony.
I think it’s a love-hate relationship.
No, I don’t think they hate you. I think they’re amused by you, for sure, but they’re definitely going to give it to you, but you give it back so it’s just fine.
Yeah, it’s good. It’s all good. It’s healthy.
Let’s start. Explain who you are, Anthony Scaramucci.
I want to address the media at one point, too, because I think it’s very important for the United States. So who am I? That’s a good question.
Hopefully I’ll figure that out before I die. Well, I grew up in a middle-class family. My parents didn’t go to college.
In New York?
In New York, out on Long Island.
I grew up in a town called Port Washington.
I grew up in Roslyn Harbor, Anthony.
Okay. Do you remember McCormick Sand and Stone?
No, I do not.
Do you remember Gothic Sand and Stone?
Okay, so you know where the clock tower is in Roslyn?
And so if you head north out of Roslyn into the peninsula of Port Washington on West Shore Road there was a very large sand embankment there. Maybe you remember that growing up as a kid. So our area, Roslyn Harbor, Port Washington had the largest granular sand deposit in North America. And so all of Long Island is a glacial deposit. When the glacier receded back to the North Pole it left Long Island, Block Island, Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, the elbow of Cape Cod, and there you go. And so right there in the peninsula of Port Washington it took 95 years for Italian, Welsh and Irish immigrants to mine out that sand. And so my family originally started in Wooksbury, Pennsylvania.
Oh my gosh, my family is from Scranton.
Yeah, so there you go. Plains PX.
Actually, my family owns a coal mining company. Anyway, go ahead. Strip mining.
Okay, so my grandfather actually wasn’t a miner but he had a store in that town in Plains, Pennsylvania. And so he told my father and his two older brothers to leave the town. He didn’t want them going into the mines. And so they responded to classified advertising to go mine sand on Long Island. So they landed in the town of Port Washington and my dad started with a payloader. He worked a conveyor belt. They used to measure barges, this is probably giving you too much more than you want.
No, I like it. It’s fascinating.
The sand would be put on a barge by Bar Beach opposite the harbor. It would be tugboated through the Throgs Neck over to Long Island City. It would be mixed with the concrete. And so what people don’t realize is that the gateway for the skyscrapers here was the Queensboro Bridge, the 59th Street Bridge. It was erected in 1909. And so you took the sand from Long Island, mixed it in the concrete, and you had those big cylinder trucks ride over the Queensboro Bridge to build these buildings. So 65 percent of the concrete here came from my hometown from 1905 to 2000.
And your dad dug it?
My dad spent 42 years in that company.
He worked for the same company for 42 years. Started with his hands, never went to college. He had an unbelievable work ethic. I can still see and remember my mom preparing his lunch pail.
What did your mom do?
My mom was a homemaker.
And so this is very important to understand, because that family that I came from was an aspirational working-class family. We lived in a working-class area of the town. Port Washington is quite affluent.
Thank God for that because it was a very good public school system, but there are certain enclaves inside of Port Washington in the 1970s that had blue-collar people in them. And frankly, blue-collar people could afford to live there because they were very high wages post World War II. As we were continuing our industrialization, these other nations were vanquished, there was a shortage of labor. And so my dad had what I would call a light-blue-collar wage for a blue-collar job. Meaning he wasn’t a white-collar person, but we had Sears Toughskins, we were taking air conditioners in and out of our house, we shared one bathroom, five of us, but it was a great way to grow up. And I was a product of a very good public school system.
In Port Washington?
In Port Washington. So I’m not one of these — even though I’m a Republican — I’m not one of these conservatives that are for no government, or too small of a government. I believe that you have to have an energetic government to help create a level playing field or at least as level a playing field as you can get.
At least an education to start with.
No question. And so you need ... You know, the Republicans are going to have to wake up and recognize that they’re not going to fix the uneven educational problem in the United States through charter schools or school choice and things like that. There are elements of the process of fixing it, but you have to have broad-scale public education reform.
We’ll talk about this later, changing how we’re teaching.
You have to have broad-scale public education reform and it has to come through the public schools and it has to come from union accountability. It’s not going to come from, “I’ve got a charter school and that’s how we’re going to do this.” I mean, they are great and they should be supported, and I do support them financially, but this is not the single element.
So here I am in this blue-collar enclave, in a very nice community 22 miles from Manhattan, and I go to Schreiber High School. You may remember that from Roslyn Harbor. I go to Tufts University, and from Tufts I go to Harvard Law School, and getting myself educated. And then it dawns on me that I’m going to do better in the world of finance and investing then I would necessarily practicing law, so I go to Goldman, I spend seven years there.
Are you a good banker, Anthony?
No, I sucked. Terrible at being a banker.
What were you in?
So I started in investment banking. My job at Goldman started on August 14, 1989. I was fired from Goldman Sachs on February 1st, 1990. So I sucked at it.
Yeah, what did you suck at? What was your suckage?
I suck at being an investment banker and an investment bank associate. I couldn’t do the spreadsheet math and the macro algorithms that you need to do to run the process. And I was bored to tears by it. And Goldman is a pretty swift place at recognizing when somebody sucks. And so it took them 18 short months, they fired me.
And this is a learning lesson for younger people listening to your podcast: Don’t burn any bridges. And so I stayed tight with the guy that fired me and I came back on Monday. I was fired on Friday, February 1st, I was back Monday pumping quarters ... I got a roll of quarters because there were no cellphones back then. I was pumping quarters into pay phones here in midtown Manhattan and one of my buddy’s said, “Hey, there’s a job opening at Goldman Sachs.” So I laughed. I said, “Where is it?” “It’s in the investment area.” And so I called my old boss who had just fired me. I said, “Hey, there’s a job opening on the 28th floor,” I had gotten fired from the 17th floor. I said, “Could you put a good word in for me?”
He said, “You know what, I would. You’re an honest guy, you work hard, you just sucked at this job.” And so I went upstairs, I interviewed for the other job and got rehired into Goldman Sachs.
No, it took about six weeks. And so I was fired.
So what did you move to?
I was fired on February 1st and I got rehired on March 28th. So I moved into the equities area, the stock market area, and that was great. I thrived in that area.
Couldn’t you have just moved, Anthony?
I should have taken that job. The funny part about this is there was a guy named Bill Groover. He’s now a professor at Bucknell University. He’s in his early 70s. He told me when I was coming out of law school to go into the equities area. That I was well suited for it. I told him, “No, I want to be an investment banker.” And he said, “Yeah, you’re a jerkoff. You want to be an investment banker because you think it’s cooler than being in the equities area.” And I had to admit that was true.
Yeah, of course.
I thought that was the cooler job. So learning lesson No. 1: Don’t take the cooler job.
Don’t try to impress your friends. Take the job that you’re well suited for and take the job that you think you could do a better job at. So I had to get that lesson the hard way, I got fired. So you know, John Kelly wasn’t the first person to fire me.
Oh, I’ve been fired.
Yeah. You’ve been fired a couple times?
Several times. My first journalism job.
It’s not bad to be fired. It’s harder to fire people. I’ve counted 20 people that I have had to personally fire and I’ve been fired twice. And I can tell you, it’s like when your parents said to you — I mean, we can’t hit our kids anymore but when kids were getting hit, and I used to get hit by my dad. He would always say, “This is hurting me more than it’s hurting you,” as he would hit me with the belt.
Getting fired is probably less painful then firing somebody, at least for me. I don’t like the process of firing somebody because you know you’re creating anxiety in another human being and I don’t really like doing that. I like creating security in human beings, not anxiety.
Well, we’re going yeah to get to that. Wait, you got fired twice, so Goldman Sachs and the White House, right?
You go on to do what? You leave Goldman Sachs.
So now I’m at Mac Goldman. I’m in the equities area, raging bull market in the ’90s. My partner and I are running a private wealth team and we extract that private wealth team from Goldman. We form a company that has a hedge fund and a registered investment advisory where we’re managing money for wealthy people. We make a ton of mistakes but the rising tide of the bull market is really wiping out a lot of our mistakes.
And so we go on to great success and in five short years we sell our registered investment advisor in Neuberger Berman, which was a New York-based, at that time, publicly traded asset manager. So my partner at the time, Andy Bosar, at that time is probably in his early 60s now. Great guy, great mentor of mine, and so we run that business over there for a while. He then goes on to retire, lives up in Nantucket now. And I’m at Neuberger. Neuberger then gets purchased by the Lehman Brothers. This was October of ’03.
I’m at Lehman building a relation with Dick Fuld and some of the senior people there. I go to them in ’05 and say, “I’d like to leave and start something that I’m going to call Sky Bridge Capital.” I explain to them what it is, Dick is great to me. He offers me $10 million of balance sheet capital to go into my fund. I then go to Merrill Lynch who sold my business. They were the merger banker for the original sale.
They gave me $10 million. Michael Dell’s family office — I had known Michael from my days back at Goldman — and some of his guys, they also come in. And so my original investors are the Dell family office, Lehman Brothers and Merrill. I put my own personal dough in and we start Sky Bridge in this building that we’re speaking from on the sixth floor in a hedge fund hotel, literally in a very small room. There was a small table, there’s four computers and a couple of telephones, and that’s how we get Sky Bridge started.
So why did you want to go off on your own? I’m very interested in entrepreneurs and why they do what they do.
I think that people experience something, and I tell my children this, I have five children. You experience something from the age of 11 to 17 that drives your passion and love for your vocation. Your vocation finds you from age 11 to 17. I don’t know what it is, it could be medicine, it could be journalism, it could be something.
For me, my dad had his hours reduced and there was some financial anxiety in the house as a result of that. Because you know the overtime hours are more valuable to somebody that works by the hour because it’s time and a half or double, depending on the time. And so I went out and got myself a paper route. I was 11, 12 years old. I was hustling papers around my neighborhood and I was giving almost all the money to my folks to supplement the budget.
So financial anxiety?
Financial anxiety. And so what I learned about myself is that I could start up, I could create something out of nothing. I had a paper route, I was stocking shelves at Key Food, I worked in my uncle’s motorcycle shop, and I said to myself, “You know what, I’m going to have my own business someday. I’m going to be my own man someday.”
I went to law school for some of the silliest reasons on earth. I read an article in Time magazine about Kervaswain and Moore, a WASP law firm that I probably could have never got in there. And they were paying their law school associates at that time $65,000 a year. My dad was making like 33 grand. I was like, “Oh my God, this is like double my dad’s. I’m going to law school, I’m going to be totally set financially for life.” And when I got to law school I realize it didn’t fit me.
Yeah, you don’t fit a lawyer.
So I deplugged or unplugged from law school, got my job at Goldman, got fired from Goldman, got rehired into Goldman, and then I started my first business at the age of 32. And you know, when I was at Lehman it was fine, but I always had the bug to start another business.
You don’t strike me as a very good employee.
I’m unemployable, actually. I’m not a good employee because people take me the wrong way. I’m actually a great team player. I was captain of my high school football team. I know how to run a process, I know how to be a team player, believe it or not. Even though I’ve got a strong personality I subordinate my ego to very talented people. So I don’t run the money at Sky Bridge. I got grown guys running the money and my ego is healthy enough where I don’t need to insert myself into that process.
So Sky Bridge is the newest that you started with that early money.
It’s 13 years old. I started Sky Bridge ...
How much do you have under investment?
There’s 10.9 billion under management here. It’s the 20th largest funds to funds in the world.
What do you do then if you have all of these guys running it?
What do I do is a really good question. So I’ve got a limited skill set. Here’s my self-evaluative skill set. I know how to evaluate talent. Okay, so if you ask me about Steve Bannon, I’ll leave out the expletives, but I can tell you exactly who the guy is. If you want to ask me about Reince Priebus, boom, I can give you the scouting report, what his pluses and minuses are, and I can do it objectively. So I know how to evaluate talent.
No. 2, effective communicator, although I am polarizing because I’m very opinionated and so some people don’t like opinionated people. And I’ll tell you another thing I’ve learned is, people don’t like the truth. You tell somebody the truth, they get very upset, they set their hair on fire and they run around in a circle.
You say the morale sucks in the White House ... Well, by the way, the morale does suck in the White House, but you’re not allowed to say that because that’s the truth.
It’s going back to “A Few Good Men” from a generation ago.
“You can’t handle the truth.” Right.
“You can’t handle the truth.” Tell somebody the truth, you’re very polarizing. Let me tell you something, if you tell somebody the truth, it’s very liberating. I mean, I’m 54 years young. I’m 54 years young for a reason. I’m rolling out of bed saying, “Hey, no problem.” I’ve run this business as sound, ethically, as you could run a business. I would never dishonor my dad and his work ethic.
Are they still living, your parents?
They are. 82 and 81. They still live in the same house I grew up in. Funny part about that is, I wanted to move them once I started making some dough, but they’re are wedded to the neighbors, they’re wedded to the area.
My grandma has stayed in her same house.
I renovated the house. I mean, they got all brand new furniture and appliances and all that other stuff. A new roof, a new basement, you know, whatever they wanted. Funny thing is — because you’re some Italian heritage, so I’m going to ask you a question. Okay, when you turn to your parents, you say, “Okay, Pops, what kind of car do you want? I’m going to buy you a new car.” What is my father’s old-line Italian say that he wants?
Well, close. A Cadillac. A Cadillac, right. They don’t want a German car. My mother says, “Mercedes.” She’s very status conscious. So I buy the Mercedes, my father gets this lease deal from the Cadillac dealer. So I get a Mercedes and a Cadillac. Now I go back, I visit my parents every Saturday and Sunday and make sure they’re okay, and I always bring my kids there. It’s a good grounding wire for them to see how I grew up so they don’t get too detached from reality, right. The Cadillac never moves from the driveway. The Mercedes is being used by everybody, including my father. If I look around, my mother says, “Yeah, he hates that Cadillac.” So I had to return the Cadillac, eat the lease and buy him a Mercedes.
I’m probably in trouble now because that’s a globalist thing to do. My point being that you know people don’t really know what they want until they get what they want.
Yeah, that’s true.
Look, I’ve lived this very improbable, very blessed life. Entrepreneurs, smart ones know that a lot of their success is providential or if they don’t believe in God it’s from the universe. It’s from the karmic atmosphere of the universe, luck. I don’t know. I didn’t pick my upbringing. I didn’t pick my parents. I didn’t pick the location of my birth, so therefore, definitional, I won the lottery. If there are certain axiomatic facts about life, one of them being life is unfair, the people sitting here in this podcast, we won the lottery by that definition.
I think about that all the time.
So for me I wake up with a lot of gratitude about life and I also recognize that the human condition is going to come with tragedy, because you’re going to have to say goodbye to people that you love. I mean that’s, unfortunately ... If you get to an adult age, you’re going to see people die that you love. You know, I dedicated my first book to one of my best friends who was my brother in law, he died of stomach cancer at the age of 44 in 2009. Very painful, but the flip side of it is there’s a lot of fun things to do in life. But if you’re listening to this podcast and you obviously like Kyra. Is that how you say it? Kara?
Kara. Like Sarah.
Let me just say this, okay: Live your truth, live your dream, live who you are, live your sexuality. Be who you are because you’re only here visiting. Okay, and like Mel Brooks said, one of the best lines ever is, “Relax, none of us are getting out of here alive.” So live your dream and relax into it. Whatever happens to you, roll with it.
All right, so how did you get wrapped up with the Trump people then? Because quite a few of these things you’re saying are not things that come out of this particular White House, or maybe they do.
They do and they don’t. I mean, the messaging is flawed. The process of the messaging is flawed.
So how did you get hooked up with him?
I was with ... First of all, I’ve known the president for a long time. I met him when I was at Goldman Sachs.
I met him at a ... Actually, my old boss, Mike Fascitelli, in real estate. Remember, I was a real estate investment banker, I got fired by this guy Mike Fascitelli, he’s very close to Trump because he was in real estate.
So I met then Mr. Trump, I never called him Donald or anything like that, but I then met Mr. Trump probably in the late ’90s through my old boss from the real estate department. I had read “The Art of the Deal.” He was a larger-than-life figure here in New York when I was growing up. And so I’ll be very candid with you, at that point I was awestruck by meeting him.
Where did you meet him actually?
I’ll have to remember this. It was a restaurant. I’m not sure if it was the Plaza Hotel. It was somewhere up here in the plaza district in Midtown Manhattan.
Because I remember my boss saying, “Hey, I’m going to meet Donald Trump, do you want to meet him?”
Of course you said ...
Yeah, I got to meet this guy. This guy’s a character on the Howard Stern Show.
I got to go meet the guy, right? So I didn’t really know him, I’m not going to lie about that. I don’t like over-exaggerating my relationships with other people. But then started to see him out. I was out, socialized a little bit, went to a couple Yankee games. I’m tight with Randy Levine, the president of the Yankees. He was in the box with me, the owner’s box.
New York chitter chatter, right?
New York chitter chatter. He was with Regis Philbin, you know, I was there with a couple clients. I mean, the president, Mr. Trump, very gregarious, friendly guy. And then I got to know him a lot better during the Mitt Romney campaign. And so I was ... You know my politics, I’m fairly agnostic. I’m not really strident Republican or strident anything. If you ask me my positions I’ll tell you what they are, they don’t fit either party. So I could never run for anything because Democrats would shell me on my economic views and the Republicans would shell me on my social progressive views.
Well, the old-time Republicans, the old New Yorker Republicans, the Rockefeller Republicans.
People say they’re all Rockefeller Republicans but I don’t even really see myself as that because I’m like way to the left on social stuff.
Yeah, but they would have gotten there if it was today.
Honestly, at the end of the day we ... I mean, there’s one thing, that’s another axiomatic ... My 54-year observation of the planet, there are no equal outcomes. You can’t systematize them, you can politicize them, you can read the Communist Manifesto, you can believe in socialism, you can say whatever you want, but you’re not going to have an equal outcome because people are uneven. What a society has to provide is as much equal opportunity as possible, but I’m telling you right now ...
I know, people rise and fall.
No matter how you politicize it, you’re not going to get equal outcomes. And so for me, when I step back and look at this stuff, whether you’re black, white, whatever your sexual orientation is, whatever your family of origin is, let’s try to level out the playing field. Let people live under the theory of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Well that would be nice, Anthony, but it doesn’t happen that way.
It doesn’t happen that way and it probably won’t happen that way because primordially we were set up for primordialism. Primordially we’re set up for that.
You don’t think we are?
I think we are and we have to resist it. Primarily we’re set up for dragging our knuckles along the ground but we ...
We have to transcend it.
We have to transcend it. You’re set up that way but you can transcend it. That’s your humanity, right? You’re in a piece of machinery that hasn’t evolved in probably half a million years and so ... You know, your phone got upgraded nine times since they started them in 2007 or eight.
Wouldn’t that be nice? If you could upgrade people?
You can’t upgrade. You don’t have a software upgrade. So you have primordial instincts, you have atavistic instincts, but you can transcend them. Okay, but back on this point. Now with Trump it’s 2012, we’re doing fundraisers in his triplex apartment and I’m developing a relationship with him and his team. And I got a rapport with him. I’m seeing him, I go to lunch with him, I go to breakfast with him. We talk, blah, blah.
And then the day after “The Apprentice,” whatever that day may be, I can’t remember it but you could Google it. I’m in his office having breakfast with him and he says, “You know, that was it. It was great. My ratings were great, weren’t they? I’m the man.” And I’m listening to him and I’m laughing because he knows how to make you laugh. And then he says, “Oh that’s it, I’m running for president.” And then I laugh. I say, “You’re not running for president.” “I’m running for president. I hired this guy Corey Lewandowski. I got this guy Roger Stone. I’ve got this guy Sam Nunberg. They’re down on the fifth floor, we’re running for president. I’ve got Hope Hicks,” and I didn’t know any of these people. I said, “You’re not running for president.”
I said, “Let me tell you, this is a great publicity stunt. I get where you’re going.” I said, “You’re at 2 percent in the polls.” He said, “Yeah, I watch Fox too. I’m at 2 percent of the polls because people are like you. They think I’m not running for president, but I’m really running for president. I’m done with this stuff. I’m 68, 69 years old,” or whatever he said. I said, “Listen, you’re not running for president.”
I said, “Number one, I’ve been to your apartment, it’s fantastic. You have 19,000 square feet here in midtown Manhattan. You’re not going to live in 6,000 square feet in the White House residence, you’re just not going to do it.” “No, no, no I’m running for president.” I said, “I’ve been on your plane. Your plane is absolutely gorgeous. Your plane is beautiful.” I’m like, “You’re not going to carry the press around on Air Force One everywhere you go.” He said, “I don’t know. The country’s a mess. I’m going to fix the problems. I’m running for president.”
He said, “Hey, you’re halfway good on TV. I want you to help me. You don’t have to raise me any money by the way. I want to help me.” I said. “Okay.” I said, “Mr. Trump, I’m already tied into this guy.”
You were working for Mitt Romney.
Look, I’ve got a very eclectic political background. I bundled for Barack Obama. I went to law school with President Obama, and so I wrote him checks, bundled for him, and voted for him first term. I worked for Governor Romney, the second time I returned to my Republican roots. I didn’t like the president’s position on a lot of the business stuff and the excess regulation. It really hurts, cripples small businesses, excess regulation. So I go back to my Republican roots, I work for Romney. Romney gets beat — and no surprise there because a rising economy, it’s very hard to beat a sitting president, which is why Trump will get reelected.
So we’ll go back to the president now. He then says, “Well you’re with Scott Walker. Okay, after I kill Scott Walker you’re going to come work for me.” I’m like, “Well I can’t really do that. I got my clients.”
You were with Scott Walker the most like gutting all kinds of things that you probably believed in if you were backing Obama.
Okay. Study Scott, okay, because you have to understand, he’s in a very blue state. And here’s what happened.
No longer. Tammy Baldwin was the last holdout.
But here’s what happens, okay, and I really believe this because it’s happened to me. The media uses a prism and then a kaleidoscope.
And so here’s what happens is they make a decision on the candidate or the person. And they say, “Okay, let me get them through this prism. We got to alter the light structure around this person. Wait a minute, this guy could be effective and he may not have my ideology so let me warp the light. Oh shit, that’s not really working. Let me do a kaleidoscope now to change the whole landscape on the guy.”
So study Walker, he’s built a large rainy-day fund. He did a tremendous amount of educational reform in the system. The system is actually working better. All he was calling for, and no one wants to give him credit for this, was union accountability. Now you’ll bring somebody on, they’ll say all kinds of stuff related to politics, and the polemics of politics, and the union people will want to hit me with a stone. And they’ll inflate a rat outside my office, whatever. I don’t really care.
Your dad was in the union, correct?
My dad was in the union. I am a union guy. I have no problem with unions. But his union, let me tell you something, they were accountable to each other. So what I’m not in favor of is we’re all sitting here at this table, and we’re in the union together, and you decide because you’re in the union you’re not going to work. You decide that, “Hey, I’m not going to get up this morning and teach these kids,” or, “Hey, I’m cool sit in a rubber room. I don’t need to teach the kids, my union is going to protect me come hell or high water.” I’m not for that.
Okay, I get the virtue of a union. I get the structure of capitalism and the need for labor to unionize so they can get their share of the economic rent and create economic progress. I totally understand all that. But just like capitalists can run amok and they can environmentally pollute the system, which they shouldn’t be doing, or they can pay themselves too much at the top and not pay their employees enough at the bottom to let the social contract work properly, unions can also run amok. And they can provide a lack of accountability for their union members in an effort to protect everybody.
Okay, so we can debate all this stuff, it’s not even a matter. I’m with Walker. Walker is very funny, by the way. He says, “I got to drop out of the race before Trump nicknames me again. I don’t know if I could handle a nickname.” So I say to him, “I got to go with Jeb after Walker because my clients are with Jeb.” “Okay, after I kill Walker and Jeb are you going to come with me?” I said, “You know what, if you’re in the race, if you’re really serious, you’re in New York or I’m in New York, I’ll come with you.”
South Carolina primaries over, I get a call from him, I go to his office and I say, “Okay, here’s my list of people we can raise money from. I’m ready to help you.” And then something very bizarre and very accidental and improbable happens. The entire Republican establishment evacuates from the campaign and they signed these petitions of being never-Trumpers. And so the ridiculous part of my story is, I’m a pragmatic business person. I’ve written checks to Chuck Schumer. I’ve written checks to Senator Hillary Clinton. I’m now working for Donald J Trump for president.
And the Republican Party, at least.
The Republican Party evacuates. So what would have happened if Jeb got the nomination, I would have been a lowly check-writing rich dude from New York and no one would have paid any attention to me nor cared about me, but because of the supply evacuation of labor, talent, policy makers, television advocates, they leave, I get sucked up into the vortex of that, right?
I want to help the guy win. I’m on TV, I’m advocating for him, I’m campaigning for him, I’m raising money for him. And despite the “Liar and Furious” book, which I call “Liar and Furious” because Wolff is a liar and Bannon’s furious, you know I was there the whole way. And by the way, you know this because you know I’m Italian. You think I would back down in a fight? The guy has the “Access Hollywood fiasco,” that weekend I was out on Twitter supporting him, that next week ...
I have to stop it. Come on that was ... Talk about the fiasco.
You want me to talk about it?
You heard it. Yeah.
Hold on a second. Don’t you locker room talk at me. Hold on a second, hold on a second, hold on a second. I’m a New Yorker. You’re a New Yorker.
Yes, I am.
You never heard talk like that before?
I guess. Not from certain people. I do expect a heavier level of decorum.
I do. I do.
He’s a hilarious guy. He’s saying something really stupid. He’s playing for a laugh, he’s got a hot mike on, okay. By the way, I have said so many stupid things in my life and some of them in the ... Look, I’ve made probably 10 phone books of mistakes in my life, at least three phone books of mistakes in 11 days inside the White House. So I’m not going to sit there and judge the guy. He said something regretful, he apologized for it, let’s move on.
Sort of. Sort of apologized.
Let me tell you something, I was there. At the Trump Tower studio he offered an apology. He looked pretty upset with himself for that moment, but whatever. And we can talk about that, but you know ...
But you stuck with him.
Michael said that I left because — that’s Steve Bannon’s narrative because Steve now hates me, which is totally fine. But the facts don’t say that. Look at the videotape in the days after, I was on television. Look at my social media feed, I was out supporting him on that Friday night. Why did you keep supporting him? I’m playing to win.
You thought he was going to win? What was the reason you thought he was going to win?
I didn’t know if he was going to win or not win at that point. I thought we had a very good chance coming out of the convention. Anybody that’s telling you on October 10th, three days after the “Access Hollywood” fiasco, that we were going to win, is smoking their own crack pipe, okay?
I thought he was going to win.
You thought he was going to win after the “Access Hollywood” tape?
Yeah, because I think that people knew that about him, one, and that a lot of women had men like that.
Okay, well the good news for you is you were probably distant enough from it and could look at it more in a macro way.
I think people didn’t care.
I was probably too close to it.
I thought people should care but they didn’t.
Okay. Yeah, I don’t think they should care by the way. I mean ...
I think mind your own business. We don’t live in France.
Yeah, we don’t live in France. But you know what? Maybe there’s some elements of France we should probably adapt. At the end of the day, who cares?
Let me tell you something I tell my Republican friends. You guys are for a smaller government in every aspect of my life except my bedroom. You want a larger government in my bedroom. You want to tell me who my lover should be and the positions I should have sexually. Okay, why don’t you guys get out of my bedroom.
And I feel that way about our public leaders. If the guy’s got the right policies, or she has the right policies, who cares? I don’t care about their personal lives. But that’s just me. So let’s move on.
So now I’m supporting him, we’re working together, it looks like we’re going to lose, and then it looks like we’re going to win. And then you’ve got to give this s.o.b. credit, he doesn’t leave. He’s a tenacious fighter. He’s in St Louis for that debate, he’s in Las Vegas for the next debate, the polls tighten. Remember, Paul Ryan wants him out. Reince Priebus wants him out. You’re going to lose, drop off the ticket.
And so here’s what happens, the Republican establishment basically doesn’t like him. I’m not saying some of it isn’t true, so I’ll be in trouble for that. Now he wins. He wins. We’re sitting around, he wins, and then the process begins. He names me to the executive transition team. Mike Wolff says I’m not doing anything at the transition. I don’t know, I’m interviewing hundreds of people for jobs. We set up his whole Tiger team, and then Jason Miller was going to be the comms director.
He says, “Okay, we need you to go downstairs to the studio a couple days, a couple times a day. And we need to out there on these different shows and telling people who we’re picking and how we’re picking.” And so I become one of the transition media advocates, and then they offer me the OPL [Office of Public Liaison] position, which is basically to be the president’s networker in chief to help him grow a robust CEO community. Small businesses, medium businesses, large businesses, also intragovernmental affairs. That’s fits my ... That’s in my wheelhouse way more, frankly, than being a comms director. So I’m like, “Okay, I’m going to do that.” I get offered the job, I put my 12-year-old company and my 70 employees up for sale because I have to. I had to dislodge myself.
Think about how stupid I am, right? I view myself as a patriot. I view myself as somebody that has had this unbelievable life in America and I want people who grew up similarly to me to have those same opportunities. Because we’ve moved from the aspirational working class into the desperational working class. If you really travel the country ...
No, I get it.
We’ve gone from aspirational to desperational. We have to return to aspirational, and if I’ve got an opportunity to affect policy to help that, I’m going to sell my company provided I can protect my employees, and protect all the people in this room, who by the way I was gone from the company for a year and they’ve done an amazing job, by the way. So I want to protect them.
And so I’ve got four bids. I take the second-highest bid. It’s from a Chinese conglomerate. They’re a Fortune 50 company. Why do I take a $14 million lower bid than the other bid? Because they’re going to keep the jobs. The American-based company already has a capital management firm, and you know, private equity and fund to funds. They really want the fund and a few of our asset managers, they don’t really need the apparatus associated with the asset managers. So I’m like, “I don’t want to do that to my staff. They helped me build this company over the last 13 years.” I take care of everybody here. I pay everybody 100 percent of their health care.
But you don’t sell. You end up not selling?
No I sold. I sold.
I sold to go serve the government. Then Rancid Prebis and Adolf Bannon, they don’t want me in the position, so they begin this narrative. This oppositional research narrative. China, China, China. They tell several lies about me to the president and all of a sudden I’m not allowed to take the OPL job and they’re using all these falsehoods as a reason why.
So I’m in a limbo now, and then I catch Reince lying and then I have to point out what a liar he is. And then the president and I have a couple conversations, he realizes now he doesn’t like them. And then he brings me in and then the fun starts for me. I had an 11-day odyssey.
10 or 11?
No, it was 11.
I don’t know. You can decide how long a mooch is.
A mooch is 11 days. Don’t hurt my feelings. Because you have July 21st to July 31st, you say, “Okay, that’s 10 days.” But I was there for July 21st and I was there for July 31st. That’s 11 days. Don’t hurt my feelings.
All right, the new change in the time of a mooch is ...
It’s 954,400 seconds if you were counting the seconds.
Which you did.
We’re here with Anthony Scaramucci. When we get back we’re going to talk about, I don’t know, everything.
We’re back with Anthony Scaramucci. We’re talking about Trump, we’re talking about tech, we’re talking about all kinds of things. What do you think you’re going to do there? You came in guns blazing, essentially.
I came in as a ... I don’t know Washington. I came in as a CEO. I came in as an entrepreneur. I didn’t come in as a slick political operative. So the president said, “You got to get rid of the leakers.” Okay, I’m going to get rid of the leakers. The same way I’m going to clean out a place here or you rip up a culture. You know. When you say good luck with it, I had them on the run. I did.
The president is kind of a leaker, it seems like to me. I’m pretty good at reading who the leaks are coming from.
Kara, let me say this. You’re always going to have leaks from the White House and you’re always going to have leaks in the political system. And in some way, leaks can be policy related and they can be beneficial.
I’m talking about the internment warfare leagues. The nastiness, the level of disharmony that was going on, the personal invective. This guy’s having an affair, that guy’s a drunk, this guy’s a globalist, that guy’s a nationalist. I’m talking about the whisperer versus the terrible, terrible leaks. Never going to get rid of the other leaks. I had those guys on the run.
By the way, when I got fired, the irony of the whole thing was they were so scared to leak the damn thing it didn’t get out there till two o’clock. I got fired at 9:37. I had those guys on the run, trust me.
I had another 10 days, would have fired a couple more people, and I would have stopped the firing like a good CEO. I would have given amnesty and pardon to everybody else in the room.
It’s a warning.
Yeah, this is how the calls going to work now.
Now we’re not going to leak on the president. We’re going to support the president. We’re going to stay loyal. You are. And see, never-Trumper people that are sitting in the room and you always-Trumper people, we’re going to meld the process together. We’re going to get it together, we’re going to figure it out. And by the way, you never have to lie for me because I’m not a liar. And you don’t have to worry about me. You know I’m never going to have you have to go to the press corps and make up a timeline or do any of the nonsense that these people do. I don’t care. I’m never going to dishonor my parents by being like that. So good news for you guys is, you can relax.
One of the greatest gifts that a leader can give people that are working with him — remember, no one’s ever worked for me, people work with me — the greatest gift you can give somebody is to relax on the ethics. Meaning I only expect you to be 100 percent ethical, I’d never want you to even touch the line.
And yet you’re working at the White House. It doesn’t feel like an ethical place at any point, I have to say.
All right, well, that’s your opinion.
Well, from the outside.
Okay, so that’s your opinion. And so by the way, the area that I was going to be responsible for is the only one I can control.
So me, I would work on that first. And then obviously if I had different roles inside the White House I’d work on the other things as well.
But I’m saying you’re describing somewhere where everybody’s not stabbing you in the back or front.
Yeah, well, I’m a front stabber but there’s a lot of back stabbers. And let me tell you something, these are terrible people by and large. They are vicious people. You probably have a lot of Silicon Valley people, I’m a Wall Streeter. Let me tell you how it works in Silicon Valley and Wall Street in my observation. You build your business and you build your career off of relationships. And so you’re trying to create like a big karma bank. I’m trying to do a mitzvah for you, you’re going to do one for me, we build a relationship. I’m totally cool with you making $100 million. Hopefully you don’t mind me making it. We’re all fine. Okay, we may be competitors once in a while but we’re both on the green team. We’re transacting over money.
In Washington, they actually get off on hurting each other. They actually earn badges or stripes on their lapel if they hurt somebody else. You know, “I crushed Swisher. I went after her with opposition research, I had 10 reporters write nasty things about her, and she fell from grace. Look at me, look at how cool I am, look how important I am.” And they do that to each other and they know that they’re doing it to each other and they admire it from each other.
But Trump did bring them in, as you know.
No, no, no, no, no. Time out a second. Time out a second.
Who hired them?
You’ve got to be fair. It’s been going on like that for 50 years.
Of course, of course. But I am saying he didn’t change that.
He didn’t change it because he’s a New Yorker. He descends on the area and he mis-sizes the area, if he’s going to be honest with himself. That’s why he’s a classic entrepreneur now, he is making so many changes because he has to. Entrepreneurs have to go through heavy turnover, you know that from Silicon Valley. You can’t get the culture and the personnel right Day One. You start flipping cards and building a different rotisserie team.
This is a lot of turnover, even for a startup.
A lot of turnover.
The Google guys, they stayed together forever. Facebook, the same exact thing, 10 years.
But that’s why they’re Google and Facebook. Okay, but there are other companies that are smaller or maybe not as successful that had heavy turnover in the beginning but are still decent companies.
We want more than a decent company from our president, presumably.
You’ve got to get the personalities right. If you don’t have the personalities right, you’re not going to get ... You’re not going to have ...
What do you imagine these people’s sort of ...
It was like five or six things that did me in. Myself, I did myself in.
That phone call.
Yeah. That phone call. I trusted the guy, made a mistake there, so I have to own that. So I would say I did myself in. I think my first press conference did me in. I don’t know if you saw my first?
I did. I was fascinated by it.
I think that did me in. Too honest. Not slick enough, political operative. Not spinning enough, just talking very straight to people. I knew that the knives were going to come at me for that. The president putting in the memo that I was reporting to him directly.
That had a factor in it.
Well, because if you’re John Kelly and the president’s got you reporting to him directly, you just come in as a chief of staff, the first thing you do is remove the guys that are reporting directly to the president.
But that makes sense.
It makes sense. I never had a bad thing to say about John Kelly as a result of him firing me, God bless him. He had the right to do that and I took it like a man. You’re asking me what I think did me in. Then the other thing that did me in was I got hired to be a hatchet man. So when you get hired to be a hatchet man, the knives come out for you as well. I told Steve Colbert that I thought I would make it longer than a carton of milk in his refrigerator. I didn’t think I was going to make it that long. I was smart enough to know that it was a 30-, 60-, possibly 90-day job for me. I didn’t think it ... I don’t see it as being an everlasting job.
But you pulled down Reince Priebus with you.
He had to be fired because he was the biggest leaker in the system. He’s a very dishonest guy, unbelievably insecure, he had to be fired. I mean, he was doing so much damage to the president and also he wasn’t staffing positions. And you know, if you were a never-Trumper and he put you in a position, if you’d like Trump he would find a way to block you. He was a disaster. But look, I would love to debate him on live television. I would love to debate him in a live forum.
He can’t do that.
He can’t do that.
What about Bannon?
Bannon is a different guy. I mean, he’s a very smart guy. He’s intellectually sound from the point of view that he’s very well read. He has a philosophical and political point of view. For all of his railing on the system he’s actually a cuck of the system.
Okay, so explain that term.
Okay, so he’s a cuck. You know, meaning like he is a hypocrite. Exactly. He’s actually a cuck of the system. He went to Harvard Business School, he worked at Goldman Sachs, he was a Hollywood producer, he worked in Washington.
He did check a lot of elite boxes.
He is an f-ing elitist. Okay, so all of this nonsense about him not being an elitist. He dresses like a hobo but he’s an elitist. But what he is is he’s got this messianic complex about himself where he thinks he has the answer and others do not. And so when you’re a messianic figure like that you do things that I said: You focus on your own brand, you care only about your personality, it’s your way or the highway. You don’t play well in the sandbox with others unless they’re playing and building your sandcastle. And so you know he’s a human walking disaster. It was also his political philosophy. He’s now at least admitting that he’s a racist. I mean, he’s openly admitting that he’s a racist, which you know is absolutely disgusting.
What’s the attraction to him by Trump then?
Well, I think it’s more complicated than that. I think you know Michael Wolff didn’t get that, right? We’re struggling in August. The Republican establishment is evacuated. It’s August of 2016, we’re at Woody Johnson’s house, now the ambassador to Great Britain. The Mercer family is there. They’re trying to figure out if they’re going to engage with then-candidate Trump. They had left the Crew situation. He’s now the declared nominee. They put five million into the PAC and they recommend Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway to the campaign. So they joined mid-August, the campaign.
And so I think the president, then the candidate, said, “Okay, listen I need to shuffle the deck here.” So he took those guys on. And then where I think the president has an issue with Bannon is that the president was already well ahead of Bannon on the desperation of the working class. The president was already ahead of Bannon on what the issues were for the core labor force of America and what the anxiety was. Bannon may have been there as well, but the president’s point, I think, is the right one, he beat 17 or 18 candidates and now he’s going neck and neck with Secretary Clinton. And so Bannon was trying to take all the credit for that. He had this guy Josh from Bloomberg, right, the devil’s bargain. Trump’s my hand puppet. I’m going to use Michael Wolff as my coming-out party. Trump’s the empty vessel, I’m the genius. All of this stuff was nonsensical, the guy needed to be removed.
But when you say what was the attraction, Trump’s an entrepreneur. The attraction was I needed something right then and there to help me so he brought those players in. And then — you can like this about Trump or dislike this — he then felt an obligation to Bannon and Priebus because of their roles inside the campaign. And so he wanted to reward them with high-profile jobs. That was a mistake because those guys didn’t care about him. They cared about themselves.
So what about now? He’s talked about it. “I like it chaotic. This is the way I like it.” Is that a problem from your perspective?
From my perspective it isn’t because ...
It looks crazy from the outside, you know that. It does look a little bit crazy.
It’s not crazy.
Every day it’s a different thing. I feel like I can’t get in the shower without something happening by the time you get out.
Okay, so turn the news off. Okay, economy is growing, wages are up, he’s not calling for massive deregulation because he’s too smart for that. He’s talking for getting it to the middle of the pendulum.
It’s so business-like. The Dodd-Frank thing is about to go.
Well, Dodd-Frank is being modified. You have to remember, you have to accept some level of banking failure if you want the economy to grow. You don’t want to ... Look, again, another axiomatic fact, life is unsafe. If you want the government to make you safest, then you’re going to be living in a society that doesn’t grow, and you’re going to live in a society that restricts animal spirits. You don’t want that. You’re an entrepreneur, you live in Silicon Valley, right? Or wherever you live. You don’t want that. You have to have people’s equity at risk in the community banking system and you have to allow some community banks to potentially fail as long as you don’t have systemic banking failure. Okay, so you can’t over-regulate the system then you won’t be able to grow and you will lose the wage growth opportunity.
All right, so keep going on the why it’s not chaotic.
I didn’t say it’s not chaotic. I said why it’s acceptable.
I didn’t say it wasn’t chaotic. It’s chaotic. But it’s acceptable because the nature of his personality is he’s an entrepreneur. He tried to fix or drain the swamp using cesspool operators and swamp creatures. You can’t bring Steve Bannon, who’s ironically railing on the swamp but is actually the Creature from the Black Lagoon, into the situation to drain the swamp. He’s going to add more sewage to the swamp. You can’t bring that ...
But that’s precisely what he did. That’s what the president did, if you’re saying that.
Well, that was a mistake. He’s changing the personnel.
Right, but it’s not just them. It’s the global elitists who are leaving. Gary, Deanna.
Let’s give the president a little bit of credit. If you’re building a building, you’re going to hire people that can build the building. If you’re building a golf course, you’re going to hire people who can build a golf course. So he says, “Okay, I’m going into government, let me hire some people that are experienced hands in the government. Here’s what I want to do to change the government.” They go, “Well no, no, no, no. We like that system. That’s our business model.”
So he hired people, said, “Okay, help me drain the swamp.” And they’re like, “No, no, no, no. We’re not draining the swamp. We’re here forever. You’re going to be here for four years, possibly eight years, we’re going to add more sewage to the swamp. We’re going to turn the swamp into a gold-plated hot tub on you. We don’t want to drain the swamp.” So he’s figured that out now and now he’s got to change the leaders.
But it’s not just that group, it’s the other group. It seemed like there were two competing groups in the White House. Dean, Gary, Deanna, Dina Powell.
I think they left for different reasons. You’d have to ask them why they left, okay, but I think they left for different reasons. Listen, the good news is the changes that the president’s making now, my prediction is this takes me back to June of 1982 when Ronald Reagan made some personnel shifts. He fired Al Haig, he did a couple other things on the margin, and then he got the team tighter and better. It was after his assassination attempt, probably a year, and things were good. And then from June of ’82, the president did way better. The bad news for the president in June of ’82 it was too late and he got schmeisted in the midterm elections in 1982.
Yep. So did Obama.
So did Obama. So did George W. Bush in ’06. I mean, you can name ... This is just what happens, this is what happens in our system. So the president has a chance to keep the House but they got to engage quickly. They’ve got to build a political operation above and beyond what they have right now. Otherwise you got 23 seats in jeopardy and he’ll lose the House.
Well what about a White House operation? I mean, some of these appointments that he makes do seem crazy. The FAA guy, the 24-year-old that was running a big ... These things, why does that happen? What occurs in that administration where you don’t get many qualified people?
I’m being honest, I can’t answer it, but I do think some of that comes from the way Priebus set the thing up. So the very thick restrictor mechanism, literally always-Trumpers couldn’t get jobs in the White House.
Well, it’s starting to happen now. But I mean, again, you know that was the way Priebus ...
What do you imagine is going to happen in the next months ahead?
Good things. Look, again, you may not like him but I’ll just let you know, he ran a very successful business. The business went into bankruptcy, or almost bankruptcy, and he rebuilt it. He ran a very successful television program, I think it was on the air for 12 or 15 years. He went from zero political experience to the American presidency in 17 short months. So I mean the guy is talented. We have to step back and look at it. He’s talented so he’ll figure this out. He’ll shift the personnel mix. The seven or eight people that will go, that are about to go, and he replaces them with people ...
Well just this week there’s Tillerson, Madius is probably going.
We’ll see. We’ll see. You think Madius is going? I don’t think Madius is going.
You don’t? Well I’m just saying.
I don’t know but we’ll see.
You feel like there is going to be stability? Because it feels constantly unstable. Or is that just ...?
No. I think there will be once he gets the personnel around him that are philosophically in sync with him, once he gets people around him, this would be a good test for him. They’re in your presence, and they’re being obsequious, and then they leave, and they run to their Georgetown salons, and they snicker about you. I think you’ve got to get people in the room that are honest to you in your presence and then when they leave, they back you up, that they’re loyal.
Right, okay. Okay.
Even lying Ryan Lizza, he wrote in his article that I’ve never said a bad thing about the guy.
No, but I think he probably quoted you pretty accurately in that conversation, yes or no? Or not the conversation.
No, 100 percent. I haven’t walked back anything I said. But he had to admit that I’m not one of these do ...
I don’t think he ever said that.
No, he literally explicitly said, “Hey, in fairness to Anthony Scaramucci, the guy doesn’t say anything bad about the president.”
And nor will I ever, because I like the guy.
What if there are things that you disagree with? Just don’t say them? You disagree on gay issues, for example. It’s got to be ... It’s appalling.
I don’t even know if I disagree on gay issues, you’d probably have to ask him directly. I think he’s a New Yorker when it comes to gay issues.
Except for ... Some of these rollbacks are clear. I’m sorry, no, pushback.
Okay, well, you may know it better than me.
These robots are obvious.
Let’s talk about the press for a second. Okay, I think you can be loyal to the president and you can disagree on tactics and strategy.
Okay. Except tactics and strategies are people’s lives.
If you’re going to have real friends, real friends tell you that you have a booger in your nose. Real friends tell you that you have bad breath. And real friends tell you you have food in your teeth, but they’re still your friends. They still love you, they want you to do well, right? So for me the war declaration on the media is nonsensical. Steve Bannon declared war on the media at C-PAC this year.
Trump seems to be enjoying it quite a bit.
It’s a mistake.
And what is his response when you say this?
I’m loyal to the president and I’m supportive of the president, but that is a mistake. You’re making a mistake with a war declaration on the media because No. 1, you’re not going to win that war. No. 2, you’re not picking the right battle. No. 3, it’s okay to have an adversarial relationship with the media but if you understand your role you have to be cross-checked and hand-checked by the media. Because the founders said, “We don’t want anybody too power-hungry to get these positions because we know that power corrupts absolutely.” Like Lord Acton said. And so the fourth ... the state’s responsibility is to hand-check the people that are in power.
How do you judge the press’s performance in this?
With the media?
With the president in this administration?
In what category?
How do you think they’re doing?
Well see, that’s the irony. So the overall grade is actually ...
For the press?
For the press, no. Very bad.
I would say his overall grade as it relates to policy — and the country is moving again, and we’re growing, and there’s a lot more opportunity, and there’s less slack in the employment markets, and there is a higher-quality job coming for the average worker. Those things are all very, very positive. That’s why he’s going to win reelection. But there’s a disconnect because of what I said, the prism and the kaleidoscope. There’s a disconnect between how well he’s doing and how the media is reporting it.
That’s what he says, too.
But this is true.
Look at the recent election.
It’s his fault. It’s his fault because you can’t declare war on the media. The fact that he hasn’t had a CNN interview, a major network television interview, or you pick ... I don’t know, let’s say MSNBC. Pick an adversarial, or a perceived adversarial network, or news organization, the fact that he’s not in there with it ... Let me tell you something. This guy’s got a force of personality. During the campaign he was on Morning Joe. During the campaign he was on these ...
That bridge seems burned.
That bridge possibly is burned for now, but my point is, is that why lose your voice? You have this force of personality, you won the American presidency, you’ve been in the media for most of your adult life. Why lose that voice? Why lose that voice? Because Steve Bannon said, “Let’s declare war.”
So why is he doing it?
He’s a combative, competitive guy. He doesn’t like what’s being written about him.
Because he looks like a crazy old man shaking his fist at the television set.
I won’t use the word fake news because people obviously get upset about that, but how about inaccurate news or misinformed news? It’s happened to me. Okay, someone has said things about me that are categorically untrue. Please don’t say those things. They say, “Well we’re going to say them anyway.”
You have to understand something, there is standards, even the New York Times versus Sullivan case, you can’t maliciously say that about me. You’re accusing me of being a felon. You’re saying that I’m under investigation as a result of my role in the Russian situation, which is categorically untrue. Please do not write that about me. “Well I’m going to write it about you anyway.”
“Okay, well how is it sourced?” “I’ve got one source.” “Okay, could you please call Mitch McConnell’s office? I’m not under Senate investigation. Can you please call Steve Mnuchin’s office, I’m not under Treasury investigation.” “No, we’re going to write it based on the one source.” Okay, well I have a deep enough pocket and I’m a tough enough person where now we’re going to go to war. Okay, so to me it’s out there whether you like it or not. The we’re going to hit you, discolor you, dehumanize you, characterize you, disfigure you. So the president’s sore at all those things. But his strategy of combating that could be way more effective.
Now in addition to using Twitter and hopping over the mainstream media, he could sit in the gladiator ring with them. He’s very skilled and he can probably beat them more often than not.
All right, in that vein though, you mean it’s always about the coverage and not the actual thing? The Charlottesville comments. The other day lying to Justin Trudeau. All kinds of various things around the gay stuff is appalling. These executive orders have been, none of this is problematic from your perspective.
No, so I have to confess here. I didn’t see the executive orders so whatever they were, if they were anti-gay I would formally and publicly ...
The transgender thing is true. Then the one after it and Charlottesville.
Did he walk back the transgender thing in the military?
No. The military has, he hasn’t. The military doesn’t agree with him.
Okay, the military doesn’t agree with him and they walked it back.
Right. The military did, not the president.
Anything that’s anti-gay, I have no problem publicly renouncing. The Charlottesville thing, you can get a look at the tape. My first television appearance after my firing was on George Stephanopoulos. I said that there can be no daylight or equivocation on Nazis. Nazis are bad.
But what do you say to this? This is the president saying this.
I think in that case, again ...
That was not misunderstood.
I’m not an apologist for the guy. I will tell you I would call balls and strikes and tell you where I see things. Again, people can like me or dislike me for that but on the gay thing, if it’s anti-gay I totally ...
Well I’m just using that.
Okay, well, if it’s anti-gay, I totally and wholly disagree with it unequivocally. And as far as I’m concerned, you know I have gay family members.
You don’t have to have gay family members.
I’m not even saying that. I was supporting the gay community before I realized I had gay family members. I just think it’s stupid. Okay, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is only for straight people? That is stupid. We need to change that.
I’m just using that as an example. Some of these things are real problems.
So unequivocally denounce that. I have no problem. Charlottesville, I was on public record on national television saying that was wrong. I said it to Steve Colbert. I’m saying it now on your podcast. I said it to the president.
And what does he say when you say, “What are you doing?”
Well, he tried to walk it back and say that he was trying to say that there were bad people on both sides. He malapropped and said that there were good people on both sides. But it really doesn’t matter, what matters is there can be no daylight on those things. And so what he did was classic him. He got to the ... he flew to Washington from Bernardsville, got to the podium and denounced everything that he said on that Saturday. And then on the Tuesday at Trump Tower he went back to what he was saying because he was getting frustrated with the press. So again, I mean ...
Guns, I’m going to do something then not do something. It feels like a lie.
The gun thing is ...
Complicated. I get it.
The gun thing is very complicated. Let me tell you, the gun thing is very complicated. If you hate the Second Amendment and you’re listening to your podcast, I got bad news for you, you’re always going to have a Second Amendment. If you’re lucky ...
I’m talking about his actions.
If you love AR-15s and you’re listening to this podcast, I got really bad news for you. A couple more mass killings like this, you’re going to have a groundswell of support.
There is a groundswell of support.
Yeah, but I mean there’s going to be an even bigger groundswell of support.
I’m talking about the president himself.
So to me, I would get ahead of it with legislation.
But getting on the air and saying you’re going to do something about it and then rolling it back, that’s the kind of stuff that is disingenuous. Just absolutely.
Okay, but that’s the problem with the political system, right? Because he’s trying to find the mark. He wears a lot of stuff on his sleeve as a New Yorker.
He just says it out loud.
So he’s saying it out loud. I’m going to do this because that’s what he really thinks he’s doing. Then he’s influenced another way. I’m going to do that because that’s what he’s really thinking he’s doing. But I do think that he’ll get to the right conclusion because I think he has the support of the NRA. And I think the NRA, say what you want about the NRA, they’re not stupid. They know that a couple more mass killings, a couple more killings of the innocents, you’re going to have a bigger problem than they currently have. So they’ve got to get somewhere on the guns. I’m not a one-size-fits-all person. If you’re in Montana on a ranch, you probably the gun legislation and the control.
We don’t have to debate gun control.
It would be different.
Yeah, I’m talking about the messaging is really ...
The message. But listen, there’s no way you can tell me that there isn’t an intersection of values on this debate where normal people can have a gun for recreational or protective purposes and we can figure out a way to screen out the abnormal people.
Of course. Which is what he said reasonably and then shifted.
There’s no way that we can’t do that. Now I get the NRA. One chink out of it wants to take your rights away, they’re never going to get them back, and blah, blah. But let me tell you something, we can figure it out.
When we get back we’ll have more words of wisdom from The Mooch.
We’re here with Anthony Scaramucci at his office in midtown Manhattan. We’re talking about everything from Trump to tech to where the next election cycle is going. I’m going to finish up on two things. One, your book and the election stuff. You keep saying he’s going to get reelected.
Just look at the data. I’m a data-dependent person.
Just looking at this election in Pennsylvania.
Well, remember midterms, let me use President Obama’s own words, midterms of 2010. “I got schellacked.” His own words. He goes on to win a resounding reelection two short years later. It was 53-47. No, I mean he crushed him. Go look at the electoral college vote for Obama in 2012. Believe me, I was close to the situation.
It wasn’t a Reagan schellacked.
Well that was 49.
We’re never going to have those again.
I don’t think so. Not in this county. Not with all of these podcasts, people are locked in, man. But back then you had uniformity to press, you won 49 states back then. But on him, and just studying the data going back to 1880 to today, it’s very hard to dislodge a sitting president. A rising economy, it’s virtually not happened.
Someone will then push back and say, “Well what about Lyndon Johnson?” Economy was rising, he stepped out of the race because of the Vietnam War and the fear of Bobby Kennedy. Okay, but if he stayed in the race, people say maybe he wouldn’t have won reelection. I’ll cede them the 1968 election. Aside from that, go to 1880 to today, you don’t get knocked out unless you’ve got a big recession, some dramatic thing is going on.
Well, this is a special president in every way. I mean, he’s different than every other one so you could have a different outcome.
This kid Conor Lamb, a gun-toting ...
A conservative Democrat.
A conservative Democrat. If you told me that the Democrats were going to pick a conservative Democrat ...
Oh, there’s been conservative Democrats. That’s not true. There’s been all of that ... In Pennsylvania, you mean?
No, no, no. No, I’m talking about the 2020 nomination, you’re at the Democratic National Convention, and the Democratic Party picks a conservative Democrat.
No, they’re not.
They’re not. Of course they’re not. Then I think they have no chance to beat him. They have no chance to beat him. They’re not going to beat him with ... Because the American people are smart. They know that the left-leaning strategies on the economy and things like that actually don’t work. They like the social progress.
Who would be someone you’d be nervous about against Trump?
You’d have to start naming people. I tried to get Donna Brazil to name them on the Bill Maher show, she wouldn’t. But you have to start naming them. There’s nobody that I’ve heard that can beat Trump. Nobody. He’s a force of nature beyond anything ...
She’s a very nice person. I met her on an Israel trip. She’s an elegant, nice person. I don’t think she can beat him. I just ... No. 1, she doesn’t have his name recognition and his force of his personality.
Okay, Biden is an interesting guy. He is going to be mad at me now for this right because I love Biden. You can see there’s a picture of me and Joe at the World Economic Forum because we were supporting gay rights globally. Okay, and I was a big part of that with Chad Griffin. And I love Vice President Biden, but Vice President Biden fumbles the ball upon contact. So he does. I mean, he did it in the 1998 election. He did it against Barack Obama in 2008. He is a lovable guy from Scranton. Love him to death. I have no problem with him as a human being and he’d probably, arguably make a good president. He’s way smarter than people want to give him credit for, but he fumbles the ball on contact.
You can’t fumble the ball on contact. This is the NFL. You’re going in there, you’re getting hit left and right, and then people will then say, “Well didn’t you fumble the ball on contact?” “I didn’t even get a chance. I got steamrolled before I could even get the ball.” Are you following what I’m saying? But maybe I would have but probably not because I’m pretty good at debating. But the vice president ...
So you don’t think there’s a Democratic candidate that can go up against him?
No. If they were smart they would say, “Okay, listen. We can’t stand Trump. And yes, I know we were lefter then left now but if you want to beat this guy we’ve got to bring on some of the anti-Trumper Republicans. And the only way we’re going to do that is we need a Conor Lamb-like candidate to go after this guy.” And you guys don’t have one of those. And my prediction — and you immediately said, “They’re never going to do that.” If you had one of those, you would reject him or her onto the ash-heap of history in two seconds.
So what about the midterm elections? That could cause stuff ...
Going to cost them. It’s going to be tough now. I said a month ago that I thought that he could win, to the great surprise of people. But after this election and watching the lack of political operation and lack of apparatus that was deployed in PA18, if we don’t change that dramatically, we have to change that quickly because we’re already in March going into April, going to be tough now. He’s got the economic elements to surprise people. The disposable income is up, the economy is doing well, with the right political organization and apparatus you could surprise people.
The House and the Senate. He’s in big trouble.
They’ll probably move to impeach him, but then you know you got to ... Look, they moved to impeach President Clinton. They impeached them and then you couldn’t get a trial together.
There’s also the Mueller investigation hanging over it. I’m not thinking Russians with the money laundering and other things.
I’ve been wrong about so many things. I think he comes out of the Mueller investigation okay. Maybe it’ll be people in the periphery that are getting hit or ...
Even his family?
I don’t know. I don’t know. I’m not close enough to it but I think he comes out okay. The guy’s never used email, rarely uses his cellphone. I didn’t see any collusion.
I don’t think Russia is the issue, it’s money laundering.
Okay, maybe that is. Again, I wasn’t there so I’m don’t know.
I’m not sure you can be in real estate in New York and be in debt without some ...
I don’t know. You’d have to look into that and maybe they have something.
I’m not a prosecutor, I don’t have subpoena power.
Maybe they have something, maybe they don’t. I don’t know. My prediction is, though, he’s the sitting president, it would be hard to take him out. That’s my prediction.
Okay, last question, your book. So your book ... We’ll start where we began. It’s about a blue-collar president ... You’re talking about one of the richest kids ...
It’s a working title. You know, Donald Trump Jr called his father the blue-collar billionaire.
Yeah. So the rich kid said the rich kid was a blue-collar billionaire.
Yeah, but he was, though, that’s the irony of that soup. Because he saw something that the other global elites didn’t see.
The billionaire who likes the blue-collar people.
Kara, they didn’t see it. His secretary. Let me tell you something, okay.
Who is more blue collar if you think about it? Comes from a much more modest background.
They may not like me for saying this, okay. I’m okay with it now. I’m comfortable in my own skin. There were 18 or 20 candidates on the field in 2016, there were only two candidates that saw the economic desperation and duress. Bernard Sanders, Donald J. Trump, the other guys didn’t see it. I’m just telling you. Oh, and by the way, I got my hand raised here. You’re looking at a guy that didn’t see it because I spent 30 years of my life going up the economic spire of opportunity, and class transcendence, and I wanted to be rich. I wanted to go to the World Economic Forum. I wanted to talk to cool people like you. I wanted to be on television. I wanted to have financial independence and take care of my family. And so I was very driven and I started to push myself into the world of collective biases of the elites and I didn’t see it.
It wasn’t until I started campaigning with the president and then the candidate I said, “Oh my God, oh my God. He’s talking to the people that I grew up with.” These are the people I grew up with and my parents are insulated from these people because I’m paying for everything and making sure they’re okay. But the people I grew up with are having a rough time right now. And he sees it, he’s a billionaire living in a tower near the Tiffany store, he sees it and I’m a dummkopf. I did not see it. Why didn’t I see it? Because I’m tunneling myself in.
Let me finish by asking you ...
So to me the blue-collar president means that he recognizes the economic duress and he’s trying to implement policies to help them. And thus far, 13, 14 months into it, the economic data suggest that there are elements of what he’s doing that are actually working.
Is he going to somehow try to stop the divisiveness? The Twitter attacks? I know that people say it’s beneath the president but there is a point where there is not decorum, but just simple behavioral.
So here’s my prediction. Do you want my prediction? He gets the right staff around him, guys he really trusts, men and women he really trusts, that are like I said, they passed the snickering test. You know, they’re not walking out of his office snickering in a Georgetown salon about him because they think they’re above him and he’s beneath them. He gets people in the room with him to work with him, he dials back all the nonsense on Twitter. That Twitter stuff in my opinion comes from “I’m undefended. I don’t have the appropriate media advocacy. They’re hitting me. I’m going to talk about Mika’s facelift.”
Okay, don’t talk about Mika’s facelift. Let’s use Twitter for policy. Let’s use Twitter for strategy. If you want to be cute and New Yorker on Twitter that’s fine, but let’s not go into Mika’s facelift. We don’t need to go in that direction.
Right, which he does.
At this point he thinks they’re hitting him so he’s going to hit them back and he uses Twitter because he’s got 50 million people on Twitter now. And so that’s, I don’t know, I think the New York Times has a three million person population of people so divide that, he’s got 17 times the New York Times.
Some of them are bots, Anthony.
I understand that. But in other words, let me put it this way. When he puts something out on Twitter, does it not show up on the world news?
Of course. Crazily enough.
It does, right? He’s getting to hundreds of millions of people off of Twitter.
So one last question about tech, because this is a tech podcast. How do you look at tech, tech which is quite opposed to Trump, I would say overall but not completely. He has been hostile at tech.
Yeah, there are people in Silicon Valley — and don’t worry, you’ll remain nameless for this podcast. I’m not going to out you guys. But there’s a large group of people in Silicon Valley that because of the fascism of the left, because the left is primarily fascist, that you can’t express your views.
We know, Peter Thiel is moving to Los Angeles.
Forget about Peter Thiel. He’s out of the ... You know the gay community took a while to get out of the closet. It’s socially acceptable now. There’s a large group of people that are in-the-closet Trump supporters in Silicon Valley, trust me.
In the closet?
In-the-closet Trump supporters because they can’t come out of the closet because they’re shamed by leftist fascism. You know, look, I’m a victim of leftist fascism. I can’t even go back to my alma mater. I’m not allowed back on the campus of the university because I’m a Trump supporter. I’m fine with it.
Oh you long-suffering people. You’re not suffering, come on. You get to say what you want. That’s crap.
I get to say what I want because you’re cool and you’ve got a microphone in front of me. There are certain areas people don’t like what I’m saying and they want to keep me away from them.
Defend it. Defend it. They’re not going fascist. A fascist is they make you do something. I can’t imagine anyone making you shut up.
If I was an actor in Hollywood and a Trump supporter, I’m getting a lot of work?
I don’t know.
Okay. All right, well, you know, they don’t get a lot of work. So here’s the bottom line ...
Some of them are bad actors, let’s be honest. He doesn’t have a good coterie.
You’re so funny. You have a lot of in-the-closet Trump supporters in Silicon Valley.
All right, okay. But where does it come with tech with all the different things with Russia, with their responsibility? There’s this sort of backlash to tech.
Here’s the good news. Okay, you’ve got a free-market president. You really study the originations ...
Who likes terrorists, but go ahead.
You want to talk about the terrorists? I can talk all day about the terrorists.
No, there’s sanctions and I think they’re sanctions ...
The playing field is uneven. He’s got to even up the playing field. Has to. They know he has to and he will. Just like they raised the dough on NATO.
He’ll make so many compromises in it it won’t matter, but go ahead.
Let’s go back to what you want to talk about.
The good news is he’s going to leave him alone. They’re probably not going to leave him alone. They’re going to probably pour money into some left-wing Democratic candidate but ...
I don’t think they’re lefty at all. I find them incredibly conservative, but go ahead.
What are? The tech guys?
The tech people.
Yeah, I know that, but they’re anti-Trump. I’m telling you right now.
They’re anti all this immigration nonsense. It’s non-sense.
You want to see the floodgate open for the Democratic party from Silicon Valley? Pick a Conor Lamb, not him but pick an older Conor Lamb. I don’t know, convince Bob Iger to run.
He’s not doing it.
Convince Howard Schultz. These are practical business people that the Silicon Valley guys would say, “Hey, I’m probably more libertarian than I am a liberal. Let’s go with that guy.” You following what I’m saying? And then you got a chance. Other than that, you got no chance.
Where is tech now going forward with all these attacks on Facebook and Twitter? It’s very clear the Russians used the platforms.
My opinion is that you got wickedly smart people at Facebook and Twitter and these other places, and they’re all new. And so they’re going to take a while to get to the right editorial objectivity where fair people can express their opinions fairly and they’ll be less shadow banning on either side or whatever it might be. And it will by and large work out and there will be a period of tumble like there is in any society where you’re seeing radical Schopenhauer breakdown of a system in a rebuilding of a system.
Just like there was when we went from horse-and-buggy to horseless carriages, and just like every time we’ve had a massive S-curve move in technology. So my prediction is it’ll be a little shaky and it’ll be a little polemical in the beginning but then it’ll sort itself out. And that these people that are running these companies — I mean, it’s just my opinion so take it for what it’s worth. They’re by and large fair people. They by and large want the freedom. I am struck by what I said that Silicon Valley strikes me as way more libertarian.
It is, 100 percent. That’s what I mean. They’re not liberal.
So libertarians are actually for gay marriage. They don’t care what people do in their bedrooms. Okay, and so for me I think it will work out. The good news for them is that the president is ignoring them. You know, he’s got four things. He’s ignoring them. He’s got four things he wants to work on.
He needs to pay attention soon. There’s some things coming down the pipe. Robotics, automation, self-driving. Big job displacement issues possibly, possibly not.
That’s why he’s got to tackle the educational issues and technical skill training. And I’ll leave you with this one thought. I’ll leave you with this one thought.
All right, you leave me with one thought.
One thought. You want one thought?
Because you interview a lot of people.
And if you get a public servant on your podcast, why don’t you ask them what the 25-year plan is for America. Say, “Hey, tell me the politician that has a 25-year plan for America.” That’s a data-dependent plan, that isn’t focused on the left or focused on the right, but is actually a right or wrong plan. Meaning that here are policies for the United States, forget about left and right, are they right or wrong for America? And who’s the politician that’s focused on that, and who’s the politician that’s going to lay out the realness to the American people that, hey, I’ve got bad news for you. We’re not fixing the deficit in a cable news cycle. I got really bad news for you. We’re not fixing the job displacement from robots in five years or 10 years, it’s going to take us 25 years. I’ve got really bad news for you, our infrastructure is crumbling.
And AI is going to take your job.
AI is going to take your job, and the infrastructure is crumbling, and we’re going to have a third world country run by robots if we don’t come up with the right policies. So who’s doing that? And so I will leave you with that and I would say it rhetorically but I would also say it emphatically, that America needs a 25-year plan. And let me give you the bad news: The Chinese have a 50- and a 100-year plan.
And so America is not going to have that because it’s America, but we could have a 25-year plan. And we could have a bipartisan commitment to that plan to help our children and our grandchildren. And the one thing I learned about Washington and wanting to stop the nonsense and knock it off with each other with the stupid backstabbing and the subterfuge, and work on the 25-year plan to help America.
Why don’t you work on Trump getting off of Twitter and doing that. It creates divisiveness.
I was there for 11 days.
Those long 11 days.
I couldn’t get him to stop tweeting on Jeff Sessions. He’s going to do what he does, but he’s going to be fine for Silicon Valley and there will be progress made under his administration, but it’s not the answer long-term. We have to develop a 25-year plan.
And who’s responsible for that? Politicians, the tech companies?
Well, I think the citizenry. I think that we have to activate citizens, we’ve got to activate.
Are you running for office? This is my last question. Would you run for office?
Do I look nuts? Do I look crazy?
I don’t know.
First of all, how could I even run for office? Everything that I just said doesn’t fit any party.
I don’t know.
Well what party does that fit in?
The Mooch party.
Oh yeah, The Mooch party. That’s going to fuckin’ win ... I’m sorry about that, I used the F-bomb.
That’s okay, I don’t care.
That’s going to win 11 votes over 11 days.
I have a question. You allow people to make fun of you using The Mooch and the whole thing, you’re very humorous about it.
I could care less.
You like it though, too.
I don’t necessarily like it, I just think that what other people think of me is none of my business. I could care less. You know the irony about being called The Mooch, I’ve been called The Mooch my entire life since the second grade in 1972. And it turns out that the left loves it because it’s a “pejorative” because a mooch is a mooch, right?
Money and squeaking.
The irony is, I’ve been more mooched then Benna Moocher, trust me. You could just look at my philanthropy. But at the end of the day, I don’t care. That’s my last name. My last name is Scaramucci. My friends from high school call me Mooch. That was on my varsity football jacket, Mooch. So big deal.
I’m sure it was. Are you going back to the White House?
I’m not even allowed in the White House. How can I go back? I’m on like the naughty list.
You can’t get within a block.
The guy is a little bit thin-skinned.
You can tell me a little bit.
I told the truth, big deal. I said the morale is terrible in the White House. Don’t hit me. Why don’t you back off of me, I’ll back off of you. You’re not going to back off of me, I got no problem going after you.
All right, Rocky Balboa, this has been entirely enjoyable.
Thank you so much.
Rocky Balboa. At least you didn’t say Vito Corleone. All right.
I was thinking it.
Mooch, it was great talking to you. Thanks for coming on the show.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.