WASHINGTON — Anthony Scaramucci got his first big on-the-job lesson yesterday: Being chief spokesman at Donald Trump’s White House won’t be easy.
In his first appearances on the Sunday talk shows as White House communications director, Scaramucci — a former hedge fund manager with no prior communications experience — seemed more out of the loop than in charge.
Asked on CNN’s “State of the Union” if the president will sign the Russian sanctions bill hammered out by congressional leaders over the weekend, Scaramucci replied: “My guess is that he’s going to make that decision shortly.”
But over on ABC News’ “This Week,” newly elevated White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump backs the bill.
“We support where the legislation is now, and we’ll continue to working with the House and the Senate to put those tough sanctions on Russia,” Sanders said.
Maybe Scaramucci missed a memo.
From there, his messaging on Russia only got worse.
“Somebody said to me yesterday — I won’t tell you who — that if the Russians actually hacked this situation and spilled out those emails, you would have never seen it,” Scaramucci said on CNN. “You would have never had any evidence of them, meaning that they’re super confident in their deception skills and hacking.”
Pressed by Jake Tapper, Scaramucci admitted that his unnamed expert was Trump.
“He called me from Air Force One,” Scaramucci said. “And he basically said to me, ‘Hey, you know, maybe they did it, maybe they didn’t do it.’ ”
Things didn’t get better when he talked about Trump’s new interest in the limits of his pardon powers. On “Fox News Sunday,” Scaramucci slapped down the notion that Trump was even interested in pardons, saying, “He hasn’t done anything wrong.”
He forgot to check Twitter, where Trump asserted Saturday: “all agree the U.S. President has the complete power to pardon.”
Even Scaramucci’s attempt at humor fell short. On CNN, Scaramucci said of Sanders, “I want to do everything I can to make her better at that podium.” Then quipped: “Sarah, if you’re watching, I loved the hair and makeup person that we had on Friday.”
The Twitter reaction was swift and furious, painting Scaramucci as a sexist who prioritized Sanders’ looks over her competence. Scaramucci clarified in a tweet: “For the record, I was referring to my hair and make up and the fact that I like the make up artist. I need all the help I can get!”
That last sentence may be the truest words he spoke yesterday.