New communications chief has mixed record on climate

Source: Hannah Northey, E&E News reporter • Posted: Sunday, July 23, 2017

Anthony Scaramucci, who stepped up today as White House communications director, has a history of flip-flopping on climate change, once calling the science “irrefutable” before backpedaling before President Trump was elected.

Scaramucci, a lawyer, former Goldman Sachs investor and Trump fundraiser also known as “the Mooch,” was appointed today as White House communications director — and shortly after the appointment, White House spokesman Sean Spicer resigned in protest. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Spicer’s deputy, will move into the press secretary job.

Spicer, a veteran Washington, D.C., Republican communicator, drew the jabs of endless memes and “Saturday Night Live” during his half-year at the White House. Before addressing the press for the first time today at the White House, Scaramucci thanked Spicer and said, “I hope he goes on to make a tremendous amount of money.”

A lawyer and hedge fund investor, Scaramucci worked at Goldman Sachs and founded the hedge fund management firm Skybridge Capital. He worked as a fundraiser for Trump’s campaign after first supporting Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) for president in 2016. He has also been a senior vice president and chief strategy officer at the Export-Import Bank of the United States.

The previous White House communications director, Mike Dubke, resigned in May.

Scaramucci has publicly weighed in on energy and climate issues.

Last March, Scaramucci appeared to acknowledge the threat of climate change, tweeting, “You can take steps to combat climate change without crippling the economy. The fact many people still believe CC is a hoax is disheartening.”

Three months later, Scaramucci said during an interview with a financial publication that the science of climate change was “irrefutable” and called assertions that warming is a hoax “tragic.”

“I find it tragic that so many people in this country believe global warming is some sort of elaborate hoax perpetuated by every credible scientist on the planet,” Scaramucci said. “In addition to the whole humanity angle, investing in sustainable energy makes sense from an American national security perspective.”

But by December, Scaramucci appeared to change his tune on the campaign trail and backpedaled during a sharp exchange with co-host Chris Cuomo on CNN’s “New Day” in December, saying he wasn’t a scientist.

“There was an overwhelming science that the earth was flat, there was an overwhelming science that we were the center of the world … we get a lot of things wrong in the scientific community,” Scaramucci said. “I’m not suggesting we’re not affecting the change, I don’t know, I’m not a scientist.”

Scaramucci today answered questions about reported friction with White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and his past criticism of Trump and insisted he’s complying with ethics agreements.

Scaramucci said he and Priebus are “a little like brothers” who “rough each other up,” adding that Priebus is a “dear friend” who was involved in his hiring and insisted they’re both “teammates.” He also acknowledged that he called Trump “a hack” in 2015 and said the president has still not forgotten.

“He brings it up every 15 seconds,” he said, turning to the cameras and adding, “Mr. President, if you’re listening, I personally apologize for the 50th time for saying that.”

When asked if he would allow on-camera press briefings again, Scaramucci said, “If she supplies hair and makeup, I’ll consider it.” Scaramucci also said he would talk to Trump about holding a press conference soon.