A well-told (true) tale of a raving madman’s dark suspicions

The most entertaining thing I read this week was also the hottest topic on cable news. A surprising overlap.

Ryan Lizza is The New Yorker’s Washington correspondent, and anyone following politics or circuses is aware of his already-infamous call with Anthony Scaramucci (also goes by: Mooch; The White House Communications Director).

What Mooch said to Lizza is notable. I mean the substance. He has the ear of the President, and we now know thanks to his rash decision to call a reporter and unload his feelings that he is a raving lunatic. In word, if not in deed. So the substance is newsworthy.

But The New Yorker’s focus isn’t news. It’s mainly a literary magazine, and Mooch’s fevered murmurings got the literary treatment. The result is well worth a read, even if you know the substance of the conversation already (like the revelation of Bannon’s quixotic quest for self-pleasure).

“I’ve called the F.B.I. and the Department of Justice,” he told me.

“Are you serious?” I asked.

“The swamp will not defeat him,” he said, breaking into the third person. “They’re trying to resist me, but it’s not going to work. I’ve done nothing wrong on my financial disclosures, so they’re going to have to go fuck themselves.”

It reads like a short story.  Or an extremely topical Shouts & Murmurs.

He cryptically suggested that he had more information about White House aides. “O.K., the Mooch showed up a week ago,” he said. “This is going to get cleaned up very shortly, O.K.? Because I nailed these guys. I’ve got digital fingerprints on everything they’ve done through the F.B.I. and the fucking Department of Justice.”

“What?” I interjected.

“Well, the felony, they’re gonna get prosecuted, probably, for the felony.” He added, “The lie detector starts—” but then he changed the subject and returned to what he thought was the illegal leak of his financial-disclosure forms. I asked if the President knew all of this.

“Well, he doesn’t know the extent of all that, he knows about some of that, but he’ll know about the rest of it first thing tomorrow morning when I see him.”

Lizza includes what happened after the call too, juxtaposing facts to comic effect.

Scaramucci said he had to get going. “Yeah, let me go, though, because I’ve gotta start tweeting some shit to make this guy crazy.”

Minutes later, he tweeted, “In light of the leak of my financial info which is a felony. I will be contacting @FBI and the @TheJusticeDept #swamp @Reince45.” With the addition of Priebus’s Twitter handle, he was making public what he had just told me: that he believed Priebus was leaking information about him. The tweet quickly went viral.

Scaramucci seemed to have second thoughts. Within two hours he deleted the original tweet and posted a new one denying that he was targeting the chief of staff. “Wrong!” he said, adding a screenshot of an Axios article that said, “Scaramucci appears to want Priebus investigated by FBI.” Scaramucci continued, “Tweet was public notice to leakers that all Sr Adm officials are helping to end illegal leaks. @Reince45.”

I love Lizza’s interjections, which found their way from real life to the page. He stands in for all of us asking What the…?

Read it: “Anthony Scaramucci Called Me to Unload About White House Leakers, Reince Priebus, and Steve Bannon,” by Ryan Lizza, The New Yorker


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