President Donald Trump’s response to Saturday’s violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, should have been “much harsher” on the white supremacists whose rally sparked the bloodshed, former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci said on Sunday.
“I think he needed to be much harsher as it relates to the white supremacists,” Scaramucci said on ABC’s “This Week.” “You have to call that stuff out.”
Trump has come under intense criticism for his response to clashes between white nationalist groups ― including members of neo-Nazi and KKK groups ― and counter-protesters, which came to a head Saturday when a 20-year-old Ohio man allegedly plowed his vehicle into a group of anti-racist demonstrators, killing a 32-year-old woman and injuring at least 19 others. The suspect, James Alex Fields Jr., was photographed holding a shield bearing a white supremacist emblem before the deadly attack
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides ― on many sides,” Trump said during a bill signing ceremony at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey. “It’s been going on for a long time in our country, not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. It’s been going on for a long, long time.”
Lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle have called out Trump’s apparent reluctance to specifically mention the white supremacist groups who gathered in Charlottesville for a “Unite the Right” rally. But to Scaramucci ― a Wall Street financier who served less than two weeks in his White House post last month ― the president’s response was textbook Trump.
“He likes doing the opposite of what the media thinks he’s going to do,” he said. “I think he’s of the impression there is hatred on all sides.”
Scaramucci said he “disagreed” with Trump’s statement, but that such differences of opinion would likely do little to shape the message coming out of the White House.
“You’re not going change the president,” Scaramucci said. “He’s going to do what he wants to do, how he wants to do it.” Furthermore, Trump’s advisers are “reluctant to tell him the truth,” he said.
Two Virginia state troopers who were part of the effort to quell the violence in Charlottesville died when their helicopter crashed on the outskirts of the town.
Scaramucci’s brief tenure at the White House ended with his resignation in late July after he gave a bombastic interview to the New Yorker in which he lashed out at various other members of Trump’s inner circle.
In his interview Sunday, Scaramucci fueled recent rumors about a forthcoming shakeup in White House staff, suggesting that chief strategist Steve Bannon was behind some of the leaks that have plagued Trump’s presidency.
“I think at the end of the day, the president knows who are the leakers ― the people undermining his agenda that are serving their own interests,” Scaramucci said. “I think the president knows what he’s going to do.”