As the newly minted White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders spent most of her first briefing on Friday standing off to the side.
Anthony Scaramucci, the just-named communications director, was dominating the lectern that Ms Sanders inherited only hours earlier, professing his love for President Trump and his administration.
Four times Mr Scaramucci said, “I love the president.” He also expressed his affection for Ms Sanders; Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff; and Sean Spicer, Mr Trump’s first White House press secretary, who had resigned earlier Friday to protest Mr. Scaramucci’s appointment.
“I love these guys; I respect these guys,” Mr Scaramucci gushed. “The president has really good karma, okay? He’s genuinely a wonderful human being.”
He signed off with an air-kiss to reporters as he left the lectern.
And the Fouth Estate wasn’t the only thing he farewelled.
Later, Mr Scaramucci admitted he had deleted a series of Tweets from months past in which he expressed views at odds with those of his new boss in the Oval office.
Some of those tweets expressed support for stronger gun laws and condemned climate-change deniers — a category that would include Mr Trump, who has slammed renewable energy subsidies as a scam intended to enrich the well-connected few.
Most embarrassing of all, Mr Scaramucci also hailed Hillary Clinton’s competence during last year’s election season.
“Full transparency: I’m deleting old tweets. Past views evolved & shouldn’t be a distraction. I serve (at)POTUS agenda & that’s all that matters,” Scaramucci said on Saturday in the first of a pair of messages on the subject.
The uneasy alliance between Mr Scaramucci and Ms Sanders will help determine the fate of Mr Trump’s efforts to reboot his message and survive amid the escalating scandals engulfing his presidency.
Known throughout Manhattan as “the Mooch,” Mr Scaramucci, 53, grew up a scrappy son of blue-collar Long Island, attended Harvard Law School and became a wealthy hedge fund manager and Wall Street fund-raiser. Along the way, he cultivated political and business relationships, including with the Trumps.
Telegenic and smooth-talking, he was an eager face of the Trump campaign on television and in the halls of Trump Tower.
Ms Sanders, 34, began Friday’s session with a recitation of talking points from the president before ceding the podium to Mr Scaramucci, who launched into a 33-minute question-and-answer session.
“I’m going to get to everybody,” he said repeatedly.
Mr Trump announced Mr Spicer’s departure and Mr Scaramucci’s arrival in statements Ms Sanders read. But in a break with custom, it was left to Mr Scaramucci, not the president, to announce Ms Sanders would be his new press secretary.
The slight did not go unnoticed by veteran communicators.
“It would have been appropriate for him to announce Sarah,” said Ari Fleischer, who served as press secretary for President George W. Bush. “It empowers her, it sends the message that the president appointed her, he’s standing next to her, and that signal was not there.”
By design or otherwise, Ms Sanders was upstaged at her first briefing in the job by Mr Scaramucci.
That may have been the point. Ms Sanders has embraced the antagonistic tone set by Mr Spicer since the earliest days of Mr Trump’s presidency.
Some of Mr Trump’s advisers, including son-in-law Jared Kushner, have told him he cannot afford to have a spokeswoman with such a poisonous relationship with reporters.
Mr Scaramucci finessed the topic on Friday, gently suggesting there was bias by the media even as he joked with reporters and said he would try to “de-escalate” the bitter dynamic between the Fourth Estate and the White House.
His earlier bids to land a White House job ran into trouble when he sold his stake in SkyBridge Capital, his hedge fund, to a subsidiary of HNA Group, a Chinese conglomerate with ties to the Communist Party.
On Friday, he said he had worked with government ethics officials to ensure he was “100 percent, totally, cleansed and clean” of conflicts.
Some Republicans said Mr Scaramucci’s ease on television could keep Mr Trump’s destructive impulses in check.
“If the president thinks he’s surrounded by good people fighting for him, then [he] won’t feel the need to push boundaries himself and make the mistakes he’s made on Twitter,” Mr Fleischer said.
Such presidential outbursts often confounded Mr Spicer, who found himself reverting to standard Washington retorts to respond.
On Friday, Mr Scaramucci wished Mr Spicer well in a distinctly New York style.
“I love the guy,” he said. “And I hope he goes on to make a tremendous amount of money.”
– New York Times & wires