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Washington — President Donald Trump’s new communications director exploded smoldering White House tensions into a full-fledged conflagration Thursday, angrily daring Trump’s chief of staff to deny he’s a “leaker” and exposing West Wing backstabbing in language more suitable for a mobster movie.

In an impromptu interview that he said was authorized by the president, Anthony Scaramucci went after chief of staff Reince Priebus in graphic terms. “The fish stinks from the head down,” he told CNN. “I can tell you two fish that don’t stink, and that’s me and the president.”

Not yet a week into his new job, Scaramucci accused unidentified senior officials of trying to sabotage him and committing a felony by leaking information. But the personal financial information that he said someone had “leaked” about him had simply been obtained through a public records request.

Then in an interview published by The New Yorker late Thursday, an angry Scaramucci used coarse terms and expletives to accuse Priebus of being a “paranoid schizophrenic” and White House chief strategist Steve Bannon of trying to burnish his own reputation.

The past 24 hours provided the clearest evidence yet that Scaramucci and Trump, both brash New Yorkers, are cut from the same cloth. One of their shared techniques: publicly shaming members of their own team.

They were not the only dramatic developments in Washington on Thursday. Just a day after the president announced a new ban on transgender troops in the military, Pentagon leaders said they would make no changes pending further direction. And a Boy Scouts executive apologized, after Trump talked politics in a controversial speech to the national jamboree, for allowing political rhetoric at the event.

Trump administration infighting, however, dwarfed other events, even as the Senate debated on the future of the nation’s healthcare.

Scaramucci’s goading of Priebus came as Trump continued to fume publicly and privately about his attorney general. Trump has been critical of Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from the Justice Department investigation into whether the president’s campaign had anything to do with Russian interference in the election last fall.

“It hasn’t been my best week … for my relationship with the president,” Sessions acknowledged in an interview with The Associated Press in El Salvador, where he was on a mission to increase international cooperation against gangs.

He said he would stay in his post and fight for Trump’s agenda “as long as he sees that as appropriate.”

But Scaramucci has firings on his mind. To The New Yorker, he threatened to fire White House staffers who leaked about a dinner he had with the president.

“They’ll all be fired by me,” Scaramucci told the magazine. “I fired one guy the other day. I have three to four people I’ll fire tomorrow. I’ll get to the person who leaked that to you. Reince Priebus — if you want to leak something — he’ll be asked to resign very shortly.”

Scaramucci did not immediately respond to a request for comment about his inflammatory remarks. Neither did the White House.

Scaramucci did Tweet late Thursday, saying, “I sometimes use colorful language. I will refrain in this arena but not give up the passionate fight” for Trump’s agenda.

The president’s senior counselor, Kellyanne Conway, had earlier speculated in a Fox News interview that unnamed forces were out to get Scaramucci, saying: “Somebody is trying to get in his way and scare him off.”

“There are leaks and then there are people using the press to shiv each other in the ribs,” she said.

Newt Gingrich, a former House speaker and frequent outside adviser to Trump, said in an interview that Scaramucci’s attacks on Priebus are problematic.

“They’ve got to get this sorted out between the two of them, and it would be nice if they didn’t do it in public,” he said.

Yet after Scaramucci’s call-in CNN performance — a move lifted from his boss’ playbook — it was difficult to see how the two might mend fences.

“I don’t know if this is repairable or not — that will be up to the president,” Scaramucci said on air. He compared their relationship to that of brothers who are “rough on each other,” invoking Cain and Abel. One of those biblical brothers murdered the other.

The bad blood stems from Scaramucci’s view that Priebus was insufficiently supportive of Trump at the end of the election campaign and his belief that Priebus persuaded the president to keep him out of the White House in January. Six months later, Scaramucci’s close relationship with the president trumped the opposition of Priebus and Bannon.

Scaramucci’s arrival in the West Wing last Friday marked the first in a series of falling dominoes that seemed to be leading toward Priebus. Press secretary Sean Spicer, a close ally of Priebus, resigned last week. Scaramucci then forced out another communications aide close to Priebus.

Scaramucci then tweeted that someone had illegally leaked financial information about him, conspicuously mentioning Priebus’ Twitter handle. Scaramucci later deleted that tweet, but his conversation with the New Yorker article seemed to confirm his animosity toward the chief of staff.

Scaramucci’s financial disclosure form wasn’t leaked at all. It was released after a public records request by a Politico reporter.

In the CNN interview, Scaramucci said he’d be reaching out to his “buddies” in the FBI about the matter.

If Scaramucci tries to direct the FBI to conduct a leak investigation, that could brush up against the Justice Department’s obligation to function independently from the White House, said Mark Zaid, a national security lawyer in Washington.

“It starts to potentially smell and approach an inappropriate line,” Zaid said.

The inner turmoil of the administration comes as the president has pressed the Senate to pass a health care bill and after he declared, by tweet, that transgender individuals would not be allowed “to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military.” How that would be accomplished for troops currently serving has not been detailed.

Top Pentagon leaders declared on Thursday they’ll allow transgender troops to remain in uniform until Defense Secretary Jim Mattis receives an authoritative directive to remove them.

For now, “there will be no modifications” to current policy, Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in an internal memo to all military service chiefs, commanders and enlisted leaders.

The Boy Scouts’ chief executive apologized Thursday to members of the scouting community who were offended by the aggressive political rhetoric in Trump’s recent speech to the Scouts’ national jamboree.

The apology came in a statement from Chief Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh, three days after Trump’s speech to nearly 40,000 scouts and adults gathered in West Virginia.

“I want to extend my sincere apologies to those in our Scouting family who were offended by the political rhetoric that was inserted into the jamboree,” Surbaugh said. “That was never our intent… We sincerely regret that politics were inserted into the Scouting program.”

All the drama surrounding Trump probably doesn’t faze him, said Brad Gerstman, a New York lobbyist and public relations executive who has done projects for the Trump Organization and is a neighbor and longtime friend of Scaramucci’s.

“In my experience, he’s of the belief that sometimes a little friction in the ranks is how you surface the best ideas,” Gerstman said of Trump.

But another rule of thumb in Trump’s inner circle is that it’s never wise to outshine the president.

Trump has reacted angrily when certain aides — including Bannon and, briefly, son-in-law Jared Kushner — received outsized media attention.

Ari Fleischer, who served as press secretary under George W. Bush, said, “Ask Steve Bannon what happens if you get too much publicity and go too far.”

“It reminds me of Icarus flying too close to the sun.”

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