White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci befuddled many with a late night tweet Wednesday that some took to be an accusation against White House chief of staff Reince Priebus for allegedly leaking Scaramucci's financial disclosure forms. Very soon afterward, he deleted the missive and posted an alternate explanation for it.
The deleted tweet was documented by screenshots posted on social media.
"In light of the leak of my financial disclosure info which is a felony. I will be contacting [the FBI] and the [Justice Department]," Scaramucci wrote.
This was the deleted tweet: pic.twitter.com/yOjFz03wXW
— Chris Geidner (@chrisgeidner) July 27, 2017
He also tagged the account for Reince Priebus, leading many to believe that he was accusing him of being the leaker. Ryan Lizza of the New Yorker confirmed the speculation, tweeting, "In case there's any ambiguity in his tweet I can confirm that Scaramucci wants the FBI to investigate Reince for leaking."
But hours later, after deleting the tweet, he offered an alternate explanation. "Wrong!" he posted. "Tweet was public notice to leakers that all [senior administration] officials are helping to end illegal leaks." He tagged Priebus again in that tweet.
Wrong! Tweet was public notice to leakers that all Sr Adm officials are helping to end illegal leaks. @Reince45 https://t.co/AB0reseuX1— Anthony Scaramucci (@Anthony Scaramucci) 1501130859.0
Some speculated that he deleted the original accusation because he could have discovered that the disclosure was publicly available the whole time, and not a leak at all.
Mr. Scaramucci filed the disclosure form in connection with his previous, short-lived job with the Trump administration at the Export-Import Bank. Under federal law, anyone can request such a report on a government website 30 days after its receipt.
Mr. Scaramucci’s report says it was filed on June 23, which means it could be publicly released by the bank on July 23, or last Sunday. Politico did not indicate whether it obtained the report through such a regular request.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Justice responded to the tweet but didn't comment on whether Priebus was suspected as a leaker.
"We have seen an astonishing increase in the number of leaks of classified national security information in recent months," spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said. "We agree with Anthony that these staggering number of leaks are undermining the ability of our government to function and to protect this country."
"Like the Attorney General has said, 'Whenever a case can be made, we will seek to put some people in jail,' and we will aggressively pursue leak cases wherever they may lead," she concluded.
Trump critics used the occasion to bash the White House communications director for a bizarre accusation and an odd attempt to cover it up.
It's official. @Scaramucci is the stupidest person ever to work in White House communications.— Lawrence O'Donnell (@Lawrence O'Donnell) 1501129619.0
Now everyone who said @Scaramucci was smoother or some kind of upgrade over Spicer understands how horribly wrong they were.— Lawrence O'Donnell (@Lawrence O'Donnell) 1501129501.0
Full disclosure: Scaramucci should delete his Twitter account if he's going to claim things are felonies that aren't felonies.— John Podhoretz (@John Podhoretz) 1501125745.0
Scaramucci has only been on the job five days and has already made a contemptible fool of himself.— John Podhoretz (@John Podhoretz) 1501128958.0
And @Scaramucci just deleted his tweet. Probably for the best, considering it made him look like an incompetent fool.— Mike Rundle (@Mike Rundle) 1501131355.0
Scaramucci made it a special goal of his to ferret out the leakers when he took the job as White House communications director. A report claimed that Trump's aide, Steve Bannon, was vehemently opposed to the move but his objections were overruled. Most consider Sean Spicer a part of the Reince Priebus GOP establishment sphere of influence — Spicer left the administration over the Scaramucci hire.