Angry criticism rained down on President Trump in the wake of his refusal to condemn white supremacists in the Charlottesville violence on Saturday. The next morning, former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci called on Trump for a stronger Charlottesville response, saying the president needed to be "much harsher ... with the moral authority of the presidency you have to call that stuff out."
Scaramucci spoke to George Stephanopoulos on ABC News' This Week on Sunday morning. If he were the White House Communications Director on Saturday, Stephanopoulos asked, would Scaramucci have advised Trump to deliver the kind of speech on Charlottesville that he did?
"I wouldn't have recommended it. I think he needed to be much harsher as it related to the white supremacists and the nature of that." Scaramucci said, adding that Gen. H.R. McMaster had the right response: "It's actually terrorism," adding that "with the moral authority of the presidency, you have to call that stuff out."
Scores of lawmakers from both parties have strongly denounced Trump's statement on Charlottesville — "We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides," Trump said on Saturday.
At least three people have died in connection to the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, including one person who was mowed down by a car, and two state troopers whose helicopter crashed near the town.
Scaramucci wouldn't have recommended Trump's Charlottesville statement: "He needed to be much harsher as it related to white supremacists." pic.twitter.com/VSmaN1w2fS— ABC News (@ABC) August 13, 2017
The refusal to call out the white supremacists who support him is becoming a pattern with Trump. During the election campaign, after many of them (including former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke) openly pledged their support for him, Trump told the media that "I don't know anything about David Duke" despite having expressed disapproval for him in 2000. Only after sustained backlash did Trump casually announce that he disavowed Duke.
But that kind of irresolute language has done nothing to discourage white supremacists from invoking Trump's name in their acts of hate. At the "Unite The Right" rally on Saturday, Duke told a reporter that white supremacists would "fulfill the promises of Donald Trump."
Many saw his failure to denounce white supremacists in his remarks on Charlottesville as essentially equating racists with with those who oppose them. But the criticism from his own party members has been intense, and the comments from Scaramucci — whose ambitious move to get closer to the president reportedly spurred the breakdown of his marriage — showed just how insidious Trump's Charlottesville comments are.
Scarmucci also implied to Stephanopoulos that Steve Bannon — who was brought into the White House from his stint as executive chair at the alt-right website Breitbart — could be the next person to part ways with the White House.
As of Sunday morning, Trump had yet to respond to the backlash to his Charlottesville remarks, though his daughter Ivanka Trump, who has positioned herself as the administration's most palatable mouthpiece in the past, did take to Twitter to call out "racism, white supremacy and neo-nazis."