After stirring up quite a bit of confusion late Wednesday, White House Director of Communications Anthony Scaramucci deleted the tweet that started it all.
In a midnight tweet, the “Mooch” copied the FBI, Justice Department, and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, writing: “In light of the leak of my financial disclosure info which is a felony. I will be contacting the @FBI and @JutsiceDept #swamp @Reince45.”
The former hedge fund manager who recently entered the White House appeared to be referring to filings with the Office of Government Ethics first reported on by Politico, which said that Scaramucci was worth roughly $85 million.
But rather than backing his hardline stance against leaks, his tweets caused confusion.
Onlookers speculated that Scaramucci believed the chief of staff had released the financial disclosures to the public. Priebus and Scaramucci are said to have a tense relationship, with reports saying Priebus had tried to prevent Scaramucci from becoming director of communications. The New Yorker‘s Washington correspondent Ryan Lizza later tweeted “Scaramucci wants the FBI to investigate Reince for leaking.”
In response to those speculations, Scaramucci fired off a second tweet: “Wrong! Tweet was public notice to leakers that all Sr Adm officials are helping to end illegal leaks. @Reince45.”
But he still didn’t address what he meant by an illegal leak. Earlier this month, Scaramucci said he would take “dramatic action” to stop leaks to the press from within the administration. But many critics noted that Scaramucci’s financial disclosure is public information—it can be acquired through a request form on the Office of Government Ethics website. Though it’s also unclear whether Politico did acquire the form through that channel, the disclosure was filed on June 23 after Scaramucci was appointed SVP chief strategy officer at the Export-Import bank. Legally, the OGE is obligated to make such disclosures public within 30 days of its receipt. That would’ve been about four days ago.
U.S. Justice Department spokesperson Sarah Isgur Flores defended Scaramucci in a statement saying “we will aggressively pursue leak cases.”
“We have seen an astonishing increase in the number of leaks of classified national security information in recent months. We agree with Anthony that these staggering number of leaks are undermining the ability of our government to function and to protect this country.”