Scaramucci Blames Kelly for White House Dysfunction: ‘Morale Is Terrible’

Former WH communications director also questions why Kelly fired him

March 1, 2018

Former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci attacked the president’s chief of staff John Kelly Thursday for creating what he said is a "culture of fear" in the White House.

Scaramucci told CNN’s Chris Cuomo, host of "New Day," that retired four-star Gen. Kelly mishandled the matter of White House staff secretary Rob Porter’s domestic violence allegations, which led to Porter’s resignation. From Scaramucci's perspective, Kelly should have never let Porter date departing communications director Hope Hicks.

"He had the information related to Porter," Scaramucci said. "I don't know why he would allow Hope to date Porter."

Cuomo asked what Kelly should have done to stop Hicks from dating Porter, and Scaramucci said Kelly was covering for the White House staff secretary.

"He had the information. He tried to cover up the information," Scaramucci added. "He tried to get other people inside the White House to cover up the information for him."

Scaramucci also said he "liked" Porter and did not know about his past, but he did say the FBI knew about his abuse allegations.

He added that Kelly might not survive the Porter scandal.

"It is going to be up for the president to decide [whether to keep Kelly]," Scaramucci said. "I guess he is an honorable marine, so he has to look at himself in the mirror and say what he knew and when he knew it."

He then alluded to his own ousting at the hands of Kelly, which occurred after he said then-chief of staff Reince Priebus was a "paranoiac" and strategist Steve Bannon tried to "suck [his] own c—."

"I tell you what I don’t like about it: I talked a little bit of smack about two guys that we were trying to get rid of, he fires me in five seconds. These guys are smacking up their wives, and he is trying to figure out a way to keep them inside the White House," Scaramucci said. "So it’s very dishonest to me."

But Scaramucci was quick to tell Cuomo that his problem with Kelly was not about losing his own job, but about the culture Kelly has created in the White House.

"I have no problem with him firing me," Scaramucci said. "Everybody has an opportunity and the right to change their staff, particularly when they're the chief of staff. But this is a cultural thing."

"Morale is terrible [in the White House]. The reason why the morale is terrible is that the rule by fear and intimidation does not work in a civilian environment," Scaramucci said. "So here we are. It's messed up. It will be up to the president to figure out if he wants to fix it or not."

"If he doesn't, I predict more departures," he added.

Scaramucci said the spirit in the White House has deteriorated as those loyal to President Donald Trump have been pushed out. He said the low morale could be disastrous going into elections in 2018 and 2020, and he blamed it squarely on Kelly.

"There’s a fear, culture of fear, culture of intimidation; people afraid to talk to each other," Scaramucci said. "I think it's the chief of staff."

Cuomo asked about whether Kelly had brought healthy order to the White House, and Scaramucci said it is a "martial" order rather than a harmonious one.

"There is a martial order, and then there is order where there is, like, good harmony. There are two different types of order," he said.