So farewell, the Mooch. One of the most bizarre figures to walk on to the stage of the Trump tragicomedy has just been shoved off – lasting just ten days. It’s the doing of John F Kelly, a former Marine Corps general who was sworn in as Trump’s Chief of Staff this morning. His first act upon returning to his office after the swearing-in ceremony was to fire Scaramucci.
Just a few days ago Anthony Scaramucci boasted said that he was going to be doing the firing. ‘What I’m going to do is, I will eliminate everyone in the comms team and we’ll start over,’ he told the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza. Well, now he himself has been eliminated. Not before causing huge amounts of damage: Sean Spicer quit as Trump’s spokesman in protest at Scaramucci’s appointment and Reince Priebus, who had for months tried to stop Trump hiring Scaramucci (‘cock-blocking’ as the Mooch put it) before stepping down as Chief of Staff last week.
You can see their concern: Scaramucci made Trump look tame. He is former hedge fund manager who does not lack confidence but does lack any serious knowledge of media relations: fatally, in his case, he didn’t even know that if he wanted conversations to be off the record then you have to say so. And even then, only to speak with such candour to journalist with whom he had an established relationship. And even then, never speak in such disparaging terms about colleagues no matter what you think of them. If he was in the habit of lambasting colleagues as being ‘paranoid schizophrenic’ then he was unfit for the job. As Gen. Kelly seems to have concluded.
When Lizza repeated the whole of Scaramucci’s expletive-ridden rant (read it in full here) it exposed yet another dimension of horror in the Trump show. But there was no peep of disapproval from Trump – raising the prospect that he rather liked this display, and had perhaps had come to hate the White House staff himself.
When Kelly was hired, the joke was that only a Marine could stop the insurgency in the White House. It seems that Kelly managed to persuade Trump the wisdom of what Priebus had been saying all along: Scaramucci is utterly unfit for the job. Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, had been the Mooch’s great advocates – they hated Priebus and this was their definition of regime change. Gen. Kelly, today, seems to have offered his own definition.
‘Mr. Scaramucci felt it was best to give Chief of Staff John Kelly a clean slate and the ability to build his own team. We wish him all the best,’ said Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the press secretary. What a shambles. But remember the golden rule of Trumpworld: nothing is so bad, so chaotic or so humiliating that it can’t get a lot worse.