NEW YORK (Reuters) - Fired White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci described President Donald Trump as a “compassionate person” on Monday but said he should have condemned neo-Nazis in his initial statement about the violence in Virginia.
Scaramucci fielded more boos than cheers when he “went into the lion’s den”, by his own account, by appearing for a chat with liberal late night talk show host Stephen Colbert.
In one of his first public appearances since being fired by Trump after just 10 days in the job following a lewd telephone interview with The New Yorker magazine, Scaramucci punted questions about Trump’s culpability for not condemning neo-Nazis and white supremacists following a deadly rally on Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Colbert, host of the CBS talk show “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert,” pointed out that the president’s more forthright condemnation of white nationalists on Monday came “two days later,” asking: “Does he order his spine on (shopping web site) Amazon Prime?”
“Only he really can answer that question,” replied Scaramucci.
The former White House official insisted Trump was a compassionate person, a contention that drew booing from the studio audience, which led Colbert to implore, “Don’t boo him for being the messenger.”
But Scaramucci took issue with the administration’s failure to condemn extremist views such as white supremacy, saying “What I don’t like is the toleration of it.”
That remark elicited cheers.
When Scaramucci, who has said he remains a firm Trump supporter, said that Trump “should have condemned white supremacy and neo-Nazis” earlier, Colbert asked “who stopped him?”
“At the end of the day, it’s the president himself,” he replied.
Scaramucci’s July 31 ouster followed comments he made to The New Yorker which included a profanity-laced attack against then-White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon.
Of Bannon, he told Colbert, “If it was up to me, he would be gone,” adding that he thought Bannon was behind many of the leaks coming out of the White House.
As to his short-lived tenure, Scaramucci reflected: “I didn’t think I’d last too long, but I thought I’d last longer than a carton of milk.”
After the taping, Scaramucci posted on Twitter that he “went into the lion’s den” but only “came out with a few scratches” and was “still standing,” adding, “I appreciated the (opportunity).”
He told Colbert he would recommend that Trump do the show, saying: “I think it’s been great.”
Editing by Chris Michaud