White House Leaks: Anthony Scaramucci Would Break Rules If He Spoke to FBI and Sessions About Investigations

The White House’s new Communications Chief Anthony Scaramucci said in an appearance on CNN Thursday that he has discussed “leaks” investigations with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and has “buddies” in the FBI he’ll be calling to help take care of people anonymously releasing information.

He further explained how he planned to deal with the issue in an interview with The New Yorker published late Thursday. “I’ve got digital fingerprints on everything they’ve done through the FBI and the fucking Department of Justice,” Scaramucci said of White House leaks.

Yet the Wall Street investor turned PR guru’s comments about calling up the FBI and speaking with Sessions should raise “red flags” about the breakdown of democracy and rule of law in the White House, says Allison Murphy, who served in the White House Counsel’s Office during the Obama administration.

New White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci New White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci takes questions at the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, D.C., on July 21. Former U.S. officials see his comments about leak investigations as part of a breakdown of democratic norms in the White House. Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

“Neither the White House’s current policies, nor the Department of Justice’s, allow any communication at all with anyone at the FBI on a specific investigation,” Murphy told Newsweek Friday. She now works with the nonpartisan United to Protect Democracy nonprofit, which aims to hold the executive branch of the government accountable to American laws.

Since taking up his job last Friday, Scaramucci has worked aggressively to shake up the White House and find leakers that have embarrassed and incriminated the Trump administration—even if it means he has to “fire everybody.”

Scaramucci told CNN he referenced the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the FBI in order to instill fear in people. On this, Murphy says, “That is exactly why we have the contact policies: to prevent the DOJ and FBI from being used as a tool, or even the appearance of a tool, for the president’s personal purposes.”

Read more: Trump’s Scaramucci deletes tweet claiming release of his public financial disclosure is a ‘felony’

The White House established fresh policies around the issue early this year that the president’s attorney, White House Counsel Don McGahn, should enforce, Murphy says, adding, “It just doesn’t appear that the current counsel's office has done anything to enforce it.”

Rules from 2009 still in effect state that only the president, the vice president and their lawyer can talk to the most senior law enforcement officials about pending or “contemplated criminal investigations.”

Scaramucci told CNN Thursday that he has a “very good idea who the senior leakers are” and is personally going to go after them with the help of the FBI.

“Lost in WH noise is the fact that no WH aide (other than in counsel's office) has or should have ability to seek DoJ prosecution of anybody,” said Ari Fleischer‏, President George W. Bush’s press secretary,  on Twitter Friday.

Earlier this week, President Trump threatened Sessions’s job in a series of tweets, calling him “beleaguered” and “VERY weak” because he hadn’t launched an investigation into the “crimes” of Trump’s campaign opponent Hillary Clinton or “Intel leakers!”  

On Thursday, Matthew Miller, former director of the Justice Department’s public affairs office, tweeted: “Sessions talking to Scaramucci about leak probes while his job hangs in the balance & DOJ reviews Scaramucci's firm sale is a huge scandal.”

If Scaramucci talked to Sessions about the leak investigations, Miller said it would be “a violation of DOJ rules on contacts with the WH that were established to prevent political interference with investigations.” In other words, it would be a breakdown of American democracy and the time-honored tradition that justice is blind.

Scaramucci said this week that more leak investigations from Sessions are pending. Several national security leak investigations are already underway, Sessions testified to the Senate in June.

The Department of Justice did not respond to a request a request for comment on whether Scaramucci has broke any rules or whether more leak investigations are pending. The FBI declined Newsweek’s request for comment.

“The policies limiting White House-DOJ contacts—which until recently were fairly obscure—play a key role in protecting our constitutional democracy,” wrote Harvard law lecturer and former Associate Counsel to the President Justin Florence in a blog post in May.

Florence was writing two weeks after President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey after the law enforcement chief did not heed Trump’s hope, in a private conversation, that he could “let go” of an investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.

The politicization of prosecutions, Florence wrote, is a common reason why the U.S. State Department labels some foreign governments “authoritarian.”

However, any contact Scaramucci has with law enforcement about an ongoing investigation flies in the face of the separation between law and politics.

“The promise that every American will be treated equally under the law and that none is above the law,” Murphy says, “is a bedrock principle of American democracy."

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