Trump’s healthcare battle reminds Scaramucci of Lincoln fighting slavery

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The new head of communications at the White House brought up Abraham Lincoln’s struggle to end slavery when asked about the difficulty Donald Trumphas faced in trying to repeal Barack Obama’s healthcare legislation.

In his first UK television interview, Anthony Scaramucci said Trump would push through the abolition of the healthcare plan, despite opposition in Congress.

He told BBC Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis: “If you’ve read Team of Rivals, it took Lincoln three or four times to get what he wanted from the Senate and the House of Representatives, which was the full abolition of slavery – that was a much tougher thing to get done than what we’re working on right now.”

When Maitlis addressed the difficulty Trump was facing from his own party, Scaramucci added: “It took 22 months for President Obama to get what he wanted from the legislature. We’re in the six months of the president’s presidency. So think about the things we are trying to accomplish inside of one year … If we get Obamacare repealed and replaced, which I predict will still happen, and we get a level of tax reform that we haven’t seen since 1986 and we do that inside of a 12-month period of the presidency, I think that will be remarkable.”

When asked to set a date for these accomplishments, he replied: “Do you live here in Washington? … People say one thing to your face but they don’t really mean it, and they something else behind your back. What I like about the president, it’s actually good leadership to say the things to people’s faces.”

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 The communications director also claimed that Donald Trump Jr, who met with a Kremlin-backed lawyer to gain information to damage Hillary Clinton’s election campaign, was simply “inexperienced”, adding that Trump Jr would be completely exonerated.

Sacaramucci also said he was “100% certain” that there would be a US-UK trade deal after Brexit. The UK’s international trade secretary, Liam Fox, has been in Washington for talks about a potential trade agreement and Donald Trump talked up the prospects of a “very big and exciting” deal with Britain.

Asked whether a deal was on the cards, Scaramucci said: “100%. [Trump] loves the United Kingdom … Think about the special relationship we’ve had since the inception of this great nation. You know what this nation is? It’s a disruptive startup. It was a group of rich guys who got together and said, ‘You know what, we are going to break away from the other countries and start our own country.’

“This is a disruptive startup. You know what the president is doing? He is bringing it back to its roots of disruption.” He admitted he had “no idea” about whether a deal would involve chlorine-washed chicken, but he said Trump was “about reciprocity, he is about fair and equal trade”.

The White House spokesman was also challenged about Trump’s series of public attacks on the US attorney general, Jeff Sessions. He said the president was “a very straight shooter, he likes to express himself, he likes to let people know how he feels”.

He added: “Part of his nature is that he is a very tough person. By tough, I mean it in a good way – he is really trying to use the bully pulpit and the Oval Office and his presidency to execute an agenda on behalf of the American people, and this is a very tough town.” Scaramucci said people dealing with Trump had to have a “tough exoskeleton, be a strong person with a strong backbone”.

Of Washington’s political culture, he said: “One of the things I cannot stand about this town is the backstabbing that goes on here. Where I grew up, in the neighborhood I’m from, we’re front-stabbers. We like to tell you exactly where we’re from and what we’re doing.

“To me, if you can handle the president’s personality, if you can handle his temperament – which I happen to love – then you are going to do great with the president.”

On Monday morning, Scaramucci continued to criticize the culture of Washington DC, telling CNN’s New Day that people in the administration who leaked information “would have been hung 150 years ago”.

He has previously threatened to dismiss the entire White House press office, primarily because of leaks to reporters.

In a tweet he published, then deleted, on Wednesday, Scaramucci implied Trump’s chief of staff, Reince Priebus, could be responsible for at least some of the leaks.

When a journalist tweeted: “Scaramucci wants the FBI to investigate Reince for leaking”, the press chief replied: “Wrong! Tweet was public notice to leakers that all Sr Adm officials are helping to end illegal leaks. @Reince45.”

But asked about this on Thursday morning, Scaramucci appeared to return to that suggestion: “If Reince wants to explain that he’s not a leaker, let him do that.”

 Asked about the tweet mentioning Priebus, the White House aide Kellyanne Conway later told Fox News: “The fact is we just have to cut down on people thinking it’s cute [to leak] and it makes them popular, that [it] somehow enhances their résumé and their portfolio for later on to curry favor with folks who are more interested in covering the style and not the substance here.”
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