Conflicting reports emerge over firing of White House press aide

Conflicting reports emerged Tuesday over whether a White House press aide had been fired, with the staffer himself saying that no one had informed him he had lost his position.

“No one has told me anything, and the entire premise is false,” senior assistant press secretary Michael Short told CNN.

Short was responding to a Politico report that the new White House communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, plans to fire him.

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Scaramucci told the news outlet that Short would be the first of many fires if he’s not able to stop leaks coming from the communications and press team.

But speaking to reporters later on the White House grounds, Scaramucci refused to say whether he fired Short, calling it "an unfair thing for me to comment on."

"This is the problem with the leaking," he said. "This is actually a terrible thing. Let’s say I’m firing Michael Short today. The fact that you guys know about it before he does really upsets me as a human being and as a Roman Catholic."

The brash former hedge fund manager said he would take an aggressive approach in rooting out leakers.

“I’m going to fire everybody, that’s how I’m going to do it,” Scaramucci said, adding that he “a thousand percent" has the authority from President Trump to do so.

“You’re either going to stop leaking or you’re going to get fired,” he added. “If I got to get this thing down to me and [White House press secretary] Sarah Huckabee [Sanders], then the leaking will stop.”

Scaramucci, who was wearing blue-tinted sunglasses, a dark suit and purple tie, issued a challenge to White House staffers, threatening that he is “gonna put ‘em out on Pennsylvania Avenue" if the leaking doesn’t end.

“Do you want to sell postcards to the tourists outside the gate or do you want to work in the West Wing? What do you want to do?” he asked.

Kellyanne Conway, counselor to Trump, confirmed that Scaramucci convened a meeting with the communications staff on Monday during which he warned them about leaks but offered “amnesty” if they came forward about past disclosures.

“He’s made very clear that everybody gets amnesty and that he’s looking at leakers and he wants to make sure everybody is at their best and highest use as part of the comms team,” Conway said on the West Wing driveway.

Reports of the firing stirred speculation about a purge of White House staffers loyal to White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and outgoing press secretary Sean Spicer.

Short worked closely with both men at the Republican National Committee (RNC).

Some people close to the White House say such a move is intended to lay down a marker.

“That was basically a message to the rest of the RNC people there that if you leak, this is what will happen,” said one GOP operative with close ties to the White House. “You’ll be humiliated in extraordinary fashion.”

Priebus and Spicer vehemently opposed the addition of Scaramucci, who has fast become one of the most powerful people in the West Wing.

“It sure looks like by getting rid of Short today, he’s starting to pick off Reince’s guys,” said the GOP operative.

Jonathan Easley contributed to this report, which was updated at 11:20 a.m.