WASHINGTON – US President Donald Trump’s new communications director is a tough campaigner who rose up through the ranks on Wall Street, becoming both rich and moderately famous along the way.
Anthony Scaramucci is now shifting firmly into politics after recently becoming a staunch supporter and fierce defender of the US president.
Trump’s expectation of loyalty is well known, and Scaramucci left no doubt on Friday when he made his debut in the White House briefing room. He spoke the words “I love the president” four times and described himself as “very, very loyal” to Trump.
Just a few moments earlier, the 53-year-old had been named White House communications director to fill a position vacant since May, when Republican strategist Mike Dubke resigned. Press secretary Sean Spicer was ousted in the ensuing shake-up while his deputy Sarah Sanders was named as his replacement.
But, Scaramucci has been behind the scenes, working for the White House team since early this year. He has a number of things in common with Trump and certain qualities the president admires.
Both are New Yorkers – while Trump was born in Queens, Scaramucci grew up on Long Island, the son of a father with roots in Italy who “laboured in the sand mines of Long Island for 42 years,” Scaramucci once told an interviewer. His mother was a stay-at-home mum.
Like Trump, Scaramucci also comes from the world of business. After Harvard Law School he rose through the ranks of New York’s business and finance community, founding Sky Bridge Capital, a hedge fund, in 2005 after working for Goldman Sachs.
He announced in January that he sold the fund, which had assets of about 12 billion dollars, as speculation grew that he would be taking on a role in the White House. The price of the sale was not disclosed, but the Financial Times had reported the fund was worth 200 million dollars.
As an author and former television host, he also has media experience similar to the president’s. He has written three books on finance, including “Goodbye Gordon Gekko,” and was a host of Fox Business Network’s “Wall Street Week.”
Scaramucci also has earned Trump’s respect as a tough competitor, news reports say, but he wasn’t always fighting for Trump. He initially backed Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and then former Florida governor Jeb Bush in the 2016 Republican presidential primaries, according to Fox News.
In 2015, as a panel guest on a Fox Business show, he even called Trump a “hack politician” adding that he didn’t like the way he talked about women, either.
On Friday, Scaramucci joked that Trump regularly reminds him about the comments even though he has since apologized for making them. He called it one of the biggest mistakes he’d ever made and put it down to being “an inexperienced person in the world of politics,” noting he was supporting another candidate at the time.
In his new communications role, the energetic Scaramucci now describes the president as “genuinely a wonderful human being.”
He said on Friday he would work to correct what he said was a “disconnect” between the way supporters see Trump and the way he is portrayed in the media.