The official appointment of Anthony Scaramucci as a senior adviser to President Trump has been delayed over possible conflicts involving his past work on Wall Street, even as people inside the White House say an announcement of his role could come as early as today, the FOX Business Network has learned.
Continue Reading Below
Scaramucci's swearing in as assistant to the President and director of the White House Office of Public Liaison and Intergovernmental Affairs was initially scheduled for the second week in January. A senior Trump official described the delay as being related to "conflict of interest issues he's having from his previous business life."
The official added, "He hasn’t resolved all of his issues that prohibit him from working with the government."
The official would not elaborate on the nature of the conflicts or when Scaramucci might be sworn in for the job, which will coordinate administration policy with key members of the business community.
Even so, Scaramucci continues to have the support of the President for the liaison job and his swearing in could come imminently, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter.
Scaramucci's delayed appointment underscores some of the tensions building inside the Trump White House that began shortly after the President's come-from-behind victory in the November election as various aides and advisers continue to jockey for his attention and to retain and expand their power.
Scaramucci is a long-time fixture on Wall Street and a prolific fundraiser mainly for GOP candidates, including Trump. He may be best known for his role as creator and moderator of the popular SALT Conference – a yearly confab that brings together leaders of business and Wall Street with top politicians and celebrities.
During his 30-year career, he has worked at Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS), Lehman Brothers and more recently, he started his own hedge fund-related business SkyBridge Capital, which he sold this month to a Chinese conglomerate. The terms of the deal were not disclosed but people with direct knowledge of the sale say the price tag is nearly $200 million.
Despite his role as a political fundraiser, Scaramucci hadn’t served in government until Trump tapped him for the adviser post, and has since been caught up in an internal political battle between competing factions inside the new administration.
Scaramucci is said to have been aligned with powerful Trump adviser Steve Bannon, who is jostling for power with Trump's Chief of Staff Reince Priebus. Bannon is said to be pushing for Scarammucci's appointment to be made official this week, while Priebus has pushed for continued vetting of his business ties.
Scaramucci is also said to have butted heads with another Trump adviser, Omarosa Manigault, a longtime confidant of the President known mainly for her role in his reality TV show "The Apprentice." People close to the Trump White House say Manigault, who technically works for Scaramucci as director of communications for the public liaison office, also covets the top job in the office.
Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks denied any internal issues between Scaramucci and Manigault, adding "the confirmation delay is purely stemming from Scaramucci’s past business conflicts."
Scaramucci could not be reached for comment; Manigault through a spokeswoman had no comment.
During the long and bitter presidential campaign and through the transition, Scaramucci helped Trump raise tens of millions of dollars from the business community. He was a daily presence in the Trump's transition headquarters at Trump Tower in Manhattan, as well as a fixture on cable TV defending the President's often controversial statements on everything from a possible trade war with China, to whether global warming exists. He was also, until recently, a FOX contributor.
At times, Scaramucci caused some controversy himself. At one point, he compared a Department of Labor rule that designates brokers as "fiduciaries" who have a heightened responsibility to clients to the infamous Supreme Court "Dred Scott" ruling that for a time legalized slavery.
Scaramucci's hedge-fund business, SkyBridge, is a so-called fund-of-funds portfolio that is sold to small investors through brokers who now may be less likely to offer it to their clients given the DOJ rule.
Then, in supporting the president's position questioning global warming, he told CNN: “There was overwhelming science that the earth was flat and there was an overwhelming science that we were the center of the world. We get a lot of things wrong in the scientific community."
His business practices have recently come under scrutiny as well after it was revealed that he met with Kirill Dmitriev, chief executive officer of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, a $10 billion state-run investment wealth portfolio that is on the State Department’s sanctions list.
Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) have called for an investigation into his meeting with the Russian businessman.
In order to join the Trump White House and overcome conflict of interest regulations, Scaramucci needed to unload SkyBridge, which has $12 billion in assets and recently suffered from poor returns.
The price tag for SkyBridge raised some eyebrows, as did the buyer, given president Trump's criticism of China as a currency manipulator and its alleged use of unfair trade practices.
That said, Trump is said to be still in favor of Scaramucci's appointment given his role in the campaign and his support of the President in the press. "For all the internal bickering, he's likely to get sworn in pretty soon," said the person with knowledge of the matter.