NEW YORK — Anthony Scaramucci, President Donald Trump’s former communications director whose new social media project got caught up in a Holocaust scandal last week, told The Jerusalem Post that he has a “zero tolerance policy” when it comes to Nazis.
“The fact that they’re even out there is a sign that something’s wrong,” Scaramucci told The Post in an interview. “You’ve got to have a zero tolerance policy on Nazis.”
Last Tuesday, a Twitter account run by his new venture, the Scaramucci Post, published a survey asking followers how many Jews had died in the Holocaust. A firestorm ensued, with critics questioning whether Scaramucci had intentionally provided fodder for Holocaust deniers.
Scaramucci’s response was swift and unequivocal: He ordered the poll removed, denied approving it, demanded a clarification for its publication and offered a donation to the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
He quickly learned by phone while in London that the employee responsible – Lance Laifer, a Jewish business associate who was raised Orthodox and has a relative who was killed in a Nazi camp – had posted the poll hoping to highlight widespread ignorance over the true scale of the Holocaust. He was especially infuriated by news that an online retailer was selling an Anne Frank costume for Halloween.
Scaramucci said that it did not cross Laifer’s mind that the post might be seen as offensive or inflammatory.
“He wasn’t trying to rouse Holocaust deniers, as much as he was trying to display that there was some level of general ignorance as to how big a calamity it actually was,” Scaramucci said. “We could’ve done a better job contextualizing it before putting it out there. It did backfire from a media firestorm perspective.”
Scaramucci’s first instinct was to shut down any hint of association with Holocaust deniers or those sympathetic with the Nazi cause. His goal was to tackle any suggestion of his support head-on.
It was an extension of his response to a neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, earlier this year, which prompted him to call on the president to more forcefully distance himself from their cause. And now, in the wake of his own small scandal, he’s doubling down further.
“I find it absolutely reprehensible and offensive that there are people walking around with swastikas on their arms in the United States,” Scaramucci said, noting that – had he remained in the White House – he would have argued that such views are beyond reproach.
But, he said, “because I’m a Trump supporter, I’ve lost my license to talk about certain things without being excoriated.”
Originally from Long Island, Scaramucci took note of the 200-odd bar mitzvahs he attended while growing up in New York.
“I’m as close to being a Jew as you can get while still being Italian,” he joked.
And there’s a silver lining to the response that erupted over Tuesday’s tweet: Scaramucci has been invited to return once more to Israel. He will visit next month and will meet with Knesset and cabinet officials.