In his first televised interview since President Donald Trump fired him, former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci joined the chorus of critics who said Trump’s reaction to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia weren’t tough enough. Scaramucci told ABC’s This Week that Trump “needed to be much harsher as it related to the white supremacists.”
“I wouldn’t have recommended that statement,” Scaramucci told George Stephanopoulos. “I think he needed to be much harsher as it related to the white supremacists and the nature of that. I applaud [National Security Advisor] General [H.R.] McMaster for calling it out for what it is. It’s actually terrorism. And whether it’s international or domestic terrorism, with the moral authority of the presidency, you have to call that stuff out.”
Also in the interview, Scaramucci suggested that a new White House Communications Director isn’t going to change Trump. “The president’s going to do what he wants to do, how he wants to do it,” he said. Scaramucci also forecast “more changes” at the West Wing.
Even Republican politicians criticized Trump for his response to the violence that broke out in Charlottesville, where white supremacists gathered for a “Unite the Right” rally. After police broke up the rally, a car drove into a crowd, killing Heather Hoyer and injuring dozens other. A suspect is in custody. In his response to the violence, Trump didn’t specifically condemn the white supremacists, who picked Charlottesville because the city is planning to remove a Robert E. Lee statue. Two police officers were also killed in a helicopter crash.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms, this display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides. On many sides,” Trump said from his New Jersey golf club. “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.”
General H.R. McMaster tried to elaborate on Trump’s comments on This Week, telling Stephanopoulos that, “The president’s been very clear. We cannot tolerate this kind of bigotry, this kind of hatred.” McMaster called the car attack “terrorism.”
When Stephanopoulos said it appeared to him that the president was drawing moral equivalence between the white supremacists who started the rally and the counter-protesters, McMaster disagreed. “Not to me. I think the president was very clear,” he the National Security Advisor said.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that he will run a federal investigation into the violence.
“The violence and deaths in Charlottesville strike at the heart of American law and justice,” Sessions said in a statement. “When such actions arise from racial bigotry and hatred, they betray our core values and cannot be tolerated. I have talked with FBI Director Chris Wray, FBI agents on the scene, and law enforcement officials for the state of Virginia. The FBI has been supporting state and local authorities throughout the day. U.S. Attorney Rick Mountcastle has commenced a federal investigation and will have the full support of the Department of Justice. Justice will prevail.”
Scaramucci was White House Communications Director for 11 days in July. He was fired after Ret. Gen. John F. Kelly was named the new White House Chief of Staff, and after Scaramucci’s profanity-laced interview with New Yorker journalist Ryan Lizza. He plans on appearing on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert on Monday.