Marking an unusual shift for the Trump administration, the new White House communications chief has declared support for LGBT rights and professed to have donated to LGBT groups.
Anthony Scaramucci, a prominent New York financier, was named White House communications director on Friday, pledging during a news conference to work to reshape Trump’s image amid widespread disapproval of his administration.
“I think there’s been at times a disconnect between the way we see the president and how much we love the president, and the way some of you perhaps see the president,” Scaramucci said. ” … To use a Wall Street expression, there might be an albatross spread between how well we are doing and how well some of you guys think we are doing, and we’re going to work hard to close that spread.”
A Trump fundraiser, Scaramucci is a founder and co-managing partner of Skybridge Capital hedge fund and a former employee at Goldman Sachs. No stranger to defending Trump on cable news, Scaramucci was the host of “Wall Street Week” on the Fox Business Network and a regular contributor to Fox News.
It was not long ago that Scaramucci professed his support for LGBT rights and defended Trump as an LGBT rights supporter.
In November, Scaramucci criticized the progressive movement for instituting political correctness, which he said “the average person” rejects, but nonetheless insisted he’s a supporter of LGBT rights and has donated to the Human Rights Campaign and the American Unity PAC, a pro-LGBT Republican group.
“I’m also a gay rights activist,” Scaramucci said. “You can look it up. I’ve given to American Unity PAC, I’ve given to the Human Rights Campaign, I’m for marriage equality. And by the way, this’ll be the first American president in U.S. history that enters the White House with a pro-gay rights stance.”
Scaramucci erroneously said during the interview gay singer Elton John would perform at Trump’s inauguration. John denied that was the case. Scaramucci later admitted his error on Twitter, but also reiterated his support for LGBT rights.
The Blade has confirmed Scaramucci donated to the American Unity Fund, a non-profit pro-LGBT Republican organization. Scaramucci seems to have misspoken by saying he contributed to the American Unity PAC, a political action committee.
It’s hard to say what Scaramucci meant by Trump having a “pro-gay rights stance,” let alone being the first president to have that position following the milestone LGBT achievements of the Obama administration.
Since Trump has taken office, he’s rescinded guidance assuring transgender kids have access to school restrooms consistent with their gender identity, failed to issue a Pride proclamation for the month of June and made numerous anti-LGBT appointments. Nonetheless, the White House has said Trump is “respectful and supportive of LGBT rights” and would keep President Obama’s 2014 executive order against anti-LGBT workplace discrimination.
The announcement Scaramucci would become White House communications director preceded news White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer resigned over objections to the appointment. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, formerly deputy White House press secretary, has been promoted to Spicer’s old role after his resignation.
Also reportedly objecting to Spicer was White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and White House strategist Steve Bannon. It’s unclear whether Scaramucci’s positions on LGBT rights were among the views to which Spicer and other administration officials objected.
Scaramucci’s support for LGBT rights isn’t limited to those remarks. As an organizer of SALT, an annual political and business conference in Las Vegas for hedge fund managers, Scaramucci had invited as a speaker TV personality and transgender Republican advocate Caitlyn Jenner. A report last year in the Huffington Post on business support for LGBT rights quotes him as saying, “We don’t want to be on the wrong side of history.”
On Twitter, Scaramucci has also criticized North Carolina’s anti-LGBT House Bill 2, calling the measure prohibiting transgender people from using the restroom in schools and government buildings “shameful.”
North Carolina to Limit Bathroom Use by Birth Gender https://t.co/oJN2q6SkZJ
this is shameful. Some of these quotes read like The Onion
— Anthony Scaramucci (@Scaramucci) March 24, 2016
GOP should be party of econ progress not social regression
— Anthony Scaramucci (@Scaramucci) April 19, 2016
That isn’t happening. NC called special session of legislature to pass a bill to address a non-existent problem https://t.co/KPtHJz9pLW
— Anthony Scaramucci (@Scaramucci) May 13, 2016
Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement to the Washington Blade he sees an opportunity for the Trump administration to reverse course in the aftermath of Scaramucci’s appointment.
“Anthony has been strong supporter of LGBTQ rights in the past, and we hope he is able to influence the Trump administration to abandon their attacks on all those who make up our diverse community,” Griffin said.
The Human Rights Campaign didn’t respond to an email inquiry to confirm whether Scaramucci was in fact a donor to the organization.
For a supporter of LGBT rights, Scaramucci has made unusual choices in his selection of presidential candidates to back. In 2012, Scaramucci supportedRepublican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. In the 2016 election, Scaramucci initially backed Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, then former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush before moving to Trump.
In a New York Times report last year on the SALT conference, Scaramucci was quoted as deriding Hillary Clinton moving to the left in the Democratic primary, reportedly saying, “You can search and see the weather vane on top of her head.”
At the time he was supporting Romney, a 2012 profile in The Daily Beast quoted him as describing himself as “socially progressive, pro-choice, and against the death penalty.”
Notably, Scaramucci wasn’t among the more than 300 Republicans in 2015 who jointly signed the Republican friend-of-the-court before the U.S. Supreme Court in favor of same-sex marriage.
Scaramucci was initially named head of the White House Office of Public Engagement at the start of the Trump administration. However, that appointment was rescinded months before Trump ultimately named him communications director.