Scaramucci rising: Anti-leak crusader curries favor with Trump

WASHINGTON — Generating headlines is President Donald Trump's forte, but in less than a week on the job, "Scaramucci" is the name on everyone's lips.

The rising profiles of staffers have been enough to doom their relationships with the man in the Oval Office before. But for now, the war that new White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci is waging against "leaks" in the White House is a fight Trump wants to have.

"Remember what he's prosecuting here," a source close to the White House told NBC News about Scaramucci. "Leaks. The one thing [Trump] hates more than anything."

And the president's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., seemed supportive of Scaramucci's quest to clamp down on leaks, saying Friday: "All I know is that he isn't/wasn't the leak!!!"

Trump has been outspoken about his desire to rid himself of the leaking that has plagued his administration.

A Justice Department spokeswoman released a statement Thursday night — after Scaramucci tweeted about leaks — saying that "we have seen an astonishing increase in the number of leaks of classified national security information in recent months."

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White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci accompanies U.S. President Donald Trump for an event about his proposed U.S. government effort against the street gang Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, with a gathering of federal, state and local law enforcement officials in Brentwood, New York, U.S. July 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci speaks during an on air interview at the White House in Washington, U.S., July 26, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
New White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci takes questions at the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., July 21, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders greets new White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci at the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S. July 21, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
SkyBridge Capital founder Anthony Scaramucci, aide to U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, arrives in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, U.S., on Friday, Jan. 13, 2017. Trump said his administration would produce a full report on hacking within the first 90 days of his presidency and accused 'my political opponents and a failed spy' of making 'phony allegations' against him. Photographer: Albin Lohr-Jones/Pool via Bloomberg
White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci talks to the media outside the White House in Washington, U.S., July 25, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
Anthony Scaramucci, SkyBridge Capital Founder and aide to U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, speaks during a Bloomberg Television interview at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. World leaders, influential executives, bankers and policy makers attend the 47th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos from Jan. 17 - 20. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Anthony Scaramucci, founder of SkyBridge Capital LLC, speaks during the Skybridge Alternatives (SALT) conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., on Wednesday, May 17, 2017. The SALT Conference facilitates balanced discussions and debates on macro-economic trends, geo-political events and alternative investment opportunities for the year ahead. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Anthony Scaramucci, Founder and Managing Partner of SkyBridge Capital, speaks at the Volatility as the New Normal event in the Swiss mountain resort of Davos January 21, 2015. More than 1,500 business leaders and 40 heads of state or government will attend the Jan. 21-24 meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) to network and discuss big themes, from the price of oil to the future of the Internet. This year they are meeting in the midst of upheaval, with security forces on heightened alert after attacks in Paris, the European Central Bank considering a radical government bond-buying programme and the safe-haven Swiss franc rocketing. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich (SWITZERLAND - Tags: BUSINESS POLITICS)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 14: Anthony Scaramucci attends SkyBridge Capital Holiday Celebration at Hunt & Fish Club on December 14, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Jared Siskin/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 14: Eric Bolling and Anthony Scaramucci attend SkyBridge Capital Holiday Celebration at Hunt & Fish Club on December 14, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Jared Siskin/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 27: Deidre Scaramucci and Anthony Scaramucci attend 'Hopping Over the Rabbit Hole' Anthony Scaramucci Book Party on October 27, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Jared Siskin/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 27: Anthony Scaramucci attends the 'Hopping Over the Rabbit Hole' Anthony Scaramucci Book Party on October 27, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Jared Siskin/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 27: Susan Scaramucci Mandato and Anthony Scaramucci attend 'Hopping Over the Rabbit Hole' Anthony Scaramucci Book Party on October 27, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Jared Siskin/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 27: Anthony Scaramucci and Maria Bartiromo host FOX Business Network's 'Wall Street Week' at FOX Studios on April 27, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)
Anthony Scaramucci, founder of SkyBridge Capital II LLC, speaks during a Bloomberg Television interview in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016. Scaramucci, economic adviser to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, discussed the accuracy of polls in the U.S. presidential election and Trump's economic policy and support of free trade. Photographer: Christopher Goodney/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Anthony Scaramucci, managing partner of SkyBridge Capital LLC, speaks during a gala event at the Skybridge Alternatives (SALT) Asia conference in Singapore, on Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012. SkyBridge Capital LLC, the $6.7 billion fund of hedge funds that organizes the biggest industry event in the U.S., plans to increase investments in Asia as it kicks off its first conference in the region. Photographer: Munshi Ahmed/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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"We agree with Anthony [Scaramucci] that these staggering number of leaks are undermining the ability of our government to function and to protect this country," the statement from DOJ's Sarah Isgur Flores read.

Scaramucci has been in his role less than a week and has been a top headline for almost all of them. He's appeared for fiery interviews on cable news, defending the president and shooting back at his detractors. He's been clear about his love for and loyalty to the president.

Scaramucci has also stoked palace intrigue and further inflamed already-ongoing internal battles.

In scathing comments, Scaramucci called now-departed Chief of StaffReince Priebus "a f------ paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoiac," in a phone conversation with the New Yorker's Ryan Lizza, predicting that the embattled chief of staff would soon resign.

The two men have long harbored bad blood, with Priebus trying to block Scaramucci for West Wing jobs both at the start of the administration and as recently as last week when Trump picked the man known as "Mooch" to head up a lagging White House communications team, according to sources inside and outside of the White House familiar with the situation.

On Friday afternoon, Scaramucci could be seen boarding Air Force One with his "brother" in arms, Priebus, en route to a speech with the president in New York.

However, by early Friday evening, Priebus was out and Trump tapped Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly for the job. And Scaramucci's White House arrival also helped usher in the departure of embattled Press Secretary Sean Spicer, a longtime Priebus ally.

Scaramucci's rant also included shots at top White House adviser Steve Bannon, whom Scaramucci accused of trying to raise his status through his proximity to Trump.

"I'm not trying to build my own brand off the f------ strength of the President. I'm here to serve the country," Scaramucci told the New Yorker.

His expletive-laden tirade about his White House co-workers grated some in Trump's orbit, the same source said, calling the comments "embarrassing."

That Scaramucci says he's not in the White House to brand-build could be his saving grace. In a world that's all about Trump, insiders are quick to note aides who saw their public personas elevated were seen to have then drawn Trump's ire for stealing the spotlight.

And it's possible that the communications director has had enough of the spotlight's glare for now — on Friday, organizers confirmed that Scaramucci's scheduled appearance this weekend at Politicon, a political gathering in Pasadena, California, was scrapped.

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