Anthony Scaramucci owns some mistakes, criticizes Stephen Bannon on ABC's 'This Week'

Anthony Scaramucci made his introductory appearance on the Sunday morning news shows just a few weeks ago as the newly named White House communications director. His latest outing came Sunday as the fired White House communications director.

A standout character in a Trump administration crowded with colorful characters, Scaramucci had a whirlwind tenure at the White House. A former hedge fund manager and Obama supporter, “the Mooch” was named communications director on July 21. Just 10 days and one expletive-laden interview with a journalist later — and before his official start date — he was fired by incoming Chief of Staff John F. Kelly. His name became a fixture on the late-night comedy circuit.

After weeks of silence, “the Mooch” is now embarking on his image-rehabilitation tour, which began Sunday on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopolous” and will continue Monday on CBS’ “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.”

His segment on “This Week” was wrapped into an examination of the aftermath of a white nationalist rally on Saturday in Charlottesville, Va. And Scaramucci found himself back in his former role, saying he “wouldn’t have recommended” the statement Trump made after a man drove his car into a crowd of peaceful counter-protestors, killing a 32-year-old woman and injuring many other people.

Trump, in a televised appearance Saturday from his private golf club in New Jersey, said, “ We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides." The comment was immediately criticized by Democrats and Republicans who blasted Trump for not specifically calling out the white nationalists.

“I think he needed to be much harsher,” Scaramucci said, praising an earlier segment with H.R. McMaster, in which the president’s national security advisor called the attack an act of terrorism.

“Whether it’s domestic or international terrorism, with the moral authority of the president you have to call that stuff out,” Scaramucci said.

Scaramucci once again took aim at White House senior advisor Stephen K. Bannon, whom he had targeted with raw sexual imagery in his notorious interview with a New Yorker reporter. Criticizing the politics of the former chief of the far-right website Breitbart News, Scaramucci encouraged Trump to abandon what he called the “Bannon-Bart influence” on his policies and move more toward the mainstream, where the moderate and independent voters are who “love the president.”

When Stephanopolous pressed him to speculate on Bannon’s future, Scaramucci cryptically responded, “I think the president knows what he’s going to do with Steve Bannon,” and implied the strategist was among the leakers inside the White House who were undermining Trump’s agenda. Again asked to clarify if he was referring to Bannon, Scaramucci reminded Stephanopolous that this was not a taped phone call, and he deferred to the president.

The “This Week” host then played the heavily bleeped recording of Scaramucci’s interview with the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza (complete with a split screen showing his guest nodding along and smirking). Scaramucci then reiterated he thought the discussion was off the record, calling the release of the tape “a very deceitful thing” and “the reason why the media gets a bad shake from the American people.” Lizza has said when Scaramucci called him he did not ask for the exchange to be off the record.

But as is required in such post-controversy appearance tours, Scaramucci claimed responsibility for his remarks. “I didn’t say I didn’t do the wrong thing. I want to be totally accountable for what I did,” he said before disputing Lizza’s claims of how well they knew each other before the call took place. “But we don’t need to debate that anymore, that’s past news.”

When Stephanopolous asked if he thought he deserved to be fired, Scaramucci said, “Obviously I wish they had given me a bar of soap and told me to wash my mouth out in the bathroom,” but was doubtful he would have held onto the position with Kelly’s arrival. “What happened was meant to happen,” he added.

Scaramucci was then asked to further characterize the divided culture of the White House, which he attributed to Trump not being part of the “political establishment class” and touted the president’s business connections.

“He’s opened up the door now for America’s CEOs and America’s billionaires to enter the Washington political system. The members of the political class do not like that,” he said.

Stephanopolous then recounted the various recent departures from the president’s staff, and he repeated Roger Stone’s description of Scaramucci as a “political suicide bomber.” Though “the Mooch” had been relatively understated in Sunday’s appearance, he couldn’t resist a little self-aggrandizement.

“I saw it more like Mr. Wolf from ‘Pulp Fiction,’” he said, referring to the “fixer” played by Harvey Keitel in Quentin Tarantino’s crime thriller. “I was probably running too hard and acting more like a corporate CEO than I was a political operative. That’s my mistake, and I have to own that.”

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chris.barton@latimes.com

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