(Vanity Fair) It all broke into the open a week ago during the Mooch’s appearance on the Bill Maher show. Trump retaliated with a stream of tweets directed Scaramucci’s way. But the Mooch says that the president has met his match.
A Harvard Law School graduate with working-class roots from Port Washington, Long Island, he’s not one to back down and is happy to go toe-to-toe with the most powerful man on Earth. I’ve been reporting on the Mooch for years, and so was curious about just what he is up to this time. What follows is a lightly edited and condensed version of our recent conversation, now that Scaramucci has decided to throw cold water on the man he calls “The Wicked Witch of the West Wing.”
You’ve had quite the last few days.
Oh my god, this jackass. You know, it’s all good. I mean, it could be the best three or four days ever, actually.
You were on the Trump train for more than three years. Now, in the last week or so, you’ve very publicly gotten off. Why? Was there a catalyst?
Let’s go back, okay? I had always stated very clearly where I was with the president, okay? When I joined his campaign—I could send you a copy of my book, if you haven’t read it—I had an epiphany. He was talking to blue-collar people that have felt left out. They have felt a vacuum of advocacy from establishment politicians on the left and right for probably three decades. So when he descended in those areas to talk to them, he didn’t say they were deplorable; he didn’t say they were misfits; he didn’t say any of those things. He said, “Hey, you got a problem, and I’m gonna try to help you.” Okay? And he also identified and crystallized three or four things that have to be fixed.
Number one, we hollowed out our manufacturing, and we allowed these asymmetric trade deals which helped the global system to hurt a large percentage of people in our own country. We have to fix that, and we’re capable of fixing it. Second thing that he recognized—you may disagree with me on this, but I believe this—is that we have to have a propitious balance between regulation and releasing the animal spirits of the system. The third piece, which frankly he gets an incomplete on, is you had to reform the tax code. You had the highest corporate taxes in the industrial world. You had to reform the code. Now you could’ve scored it differently, and you could’ve put more middle-class incentives in there, and, you know, you didn’t—you don’t need to be doing this level of deficit spending, ’cause what you find about this level of deficit spending, it’s not necessarily increasing growth. So he didn’t get everything right, but at least he was trying to move in the right direction, okay? Those are the positives.
And the negatives?
Go look at the tweeting and the craziness and the fracturing of the alliances and the irrational Trump trade-tariff roulette. Okay, we’re putting the tariffs on; we’re taking the tariffs off; we’re putting them on; we may take them off. Hey, you can’t run a business like that if you’re a business leader. Business leaders large and small in the United States have said, “Hey, I gotta stop my capital investing. I don’t know what this guy is doing, because if he—if I start to invest in Mexico and he slaps a 20% tariff down there for some reason that I don’t understand, that’s gonna kill my business in Mexico. Let me wait this guy out.”
It’s a regressive tax. Okay, and moreover, it’s the least representative tax in our nation’s history, and let me explain why. We broke from England. We broke from them because our chant was no taxation without representation, and yet when you look at what Trump is doing with his tax, he’s using an arcane law that was established right after the Cuban Missile Crisis to give the president executive power to put on tariffs for national-security purposes, okay, and so you have one person deciding on this tax. It hasn’t gone through the legislature to be approved.
But what was the moment the scales actually fell from your eyes?
The red line was the racism—full-blown racism. He can say that he’s not a racist, and I agree with him, okay? And let me explain to you why he’s not a racist, ’cause this is very important. He’s actually worse than a racist. He is so narcissistic, he doesn’t see people as people. He sees them as objects in his field of vision. And so therefore, that’s why he has no empathy. That’s why he’s got his thumb up in the air when he’s taking a picture with an orphan. That’s why when someone’s leaning over the desk and asks [Nobel Prize–winning human rights activist Nadia Murad], “Well, what happened to your family members?”—they were murdered—he just looks at her and says, “Okay, when are we getting coffee here?”
You know, he doesn’t look at people—and by the way, if you and I were in his field of vision and he had a cold and the two of us had to die for him to get a Kleenex, you’re fucking dead. I mean, there’s no chance. You understand that, right?
And then there’s the mental element, right?
I think the guy is losing it, mentally. He has declining mental faculties; he’s becoming more petulant; he’s becoming more impetuous. Okay, you see just by the way he’s sweating, his body’s not doing well. It’s obviously not a guy that takes care of himself, right? And he doesn’t listen to anybody. And just think about this, okay? There’s no one—there’s no Jim Mattis; there’s no Gary Cohn; there’s no one to check him anymore. Whatever my differences were with General John Kelly, after he left, this thing has completely unspooled.
What do you think people get wrong about Trump?
I don’t have Trump derangement syndrome, but what I do have is Trump fatigue syndrome. It’s a very different thing, okay? And I submit to you that the nation, my party members, all have Trump fatigue syndrome, okay?
Trump is crazy, everything about him is terrible, or we gotta do everything we can to defeat him. He wants that. The George Conway Twitter feed is an example—and I love George, and he’s absolutely right about everything—but Trump has anesthetized the country to George Conway’s Twitter feed. Right? You’re looking at George Conway going, Okay, he’s very emotionally attached to hating on Trump, and he’s lighting Trump up every day. Even though he’s 100% right.
Trump has figured out a way to push people so that the average person says, “Okay, wait a minute.” They’ve lost their—they’re too emotionally invested in hating. I don’t hate him. He needs to be dismantled because he’s un-American; he’s hurting our civics, and he’s hurting our culture; and he’s done a good job of proving that some of the policies he has work. Let’s get the policies in place. Same policies, less crazy.
So what’s your role in all this?
He has nobody that he’s going up against that can fight like him. And by the way, watch what I’m doing. I’m not calling him Small Hands or saying he’s got a small penis. I’m not doing any of that. I’m attacking him by asserting presidential leadership; this is where the bar is, this is where you are. You’re bullying. You’re angry. You’re detached. You can’t put a coalition together. You can’t delegate and form a managerial structure to run the country.
And why are you doing this?
I love my country. You may not agree with my political views, you may not like my demeanor or personality, but you can’t say I don’t love my country. And so the point is, you want to attack me, no problem. I want to show my fellow Republicans those are paper bullets coming out of that gun. They are not as piercing as you think, because if you change your attitude and you reflect back, you don’t absorb that and you reflect it back, you’ll demolish this guy. He’s a paper tiger, Bill. He can be completely dismantled and defeated. And unfortunately, this isn’t about a personal thing.
This is an observational objective thing: the guy’s nuts. We’ve gotta defeat him. Everybody in the Republican Party knows it. They don’t want to lose their mantle of power and their mantle of leadership, so let’s primary the guy. And by the way, let’s find somebody younger, charismatic, understands the issues, can reach into the population and say, “Yeah, I got it.” But come on, this guy is gonna take us off the rails.
His poll numbers are quite bad at this stage. Do you think he might drop out, like Lyndon Johnson in 1968?
Yes. He’s gonna drop out of the race because it’s gonna become very clear. Okay, it’ll be March of 2020. He’ll likely drop out by March of 2020. It’s gonna become very clear that it’s impossible for him to win. And is this the kind of guy that’s gonna want to be that humiliated and lose as a sitting president? He’s got the self-worth in terms of his self-esteem of a small pigeon. It’s a very small pigeon. Okay. And so you think this guy’s gonna look at those poll numbers and say—he’s not gonna be able to handle that humiliation. And by the way, he is smart enough to know that that entire Congress hates his guts.
So therefore, that’s why he amps up the bullying: let me show you what I’m gonna do to Scaramucci. I’m gonna disgrace and bully him, okay, and therefore he’s gonna now become a pariah, and that’s what I’m gonna do to you if you open your mouth about me. But what I've just proven, you can’t really disgrace me. I’m sorry. I don’t care, and I’m gonna now dismantle you, and I’m gonna explain to the American people what you’re doing to them.
You know me, I’m a happy warrior so it’s no problem. I make fun of my hair. You know, Nikki Haley was looking at a bruise on my forehead. I said, “That was from a Botox injection at 7 a.m.. Don’t judge it, Nikki. Don’t judge.” There was a little contusion there.
So what’s the logical conclusion of all this, do you think?
Well, he’s gotta be primaried, so we have to find somebody to primary him, and I think we will. And again, not that Bill Weld isn’t a great guy, but unfortunately Bill Weld doesn’t have the panache right at this moment. He doesn’t have the panache to light up that group. And again, remember, all you need is to get enough delegates to get in the game here and disrupt this thing. And so listen, there’s gotta be somebody in the Republican Party that’s worried about 2024 and the identity of the Republican Party.
You know, this is like Game of Thrones. We need an Arya Stark, okay? We gotta take this guy out because this is like the Night King. The minute the Night King is vaporized, all the zombies are gonna fall by the wayside, right? We had the Wicked Witch of the West, but he is the Wicked Witch of the West Wing. We gotta get some water thrown on him. He’ll start melting.