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White House communications chief threatens action on Trump administration leaks

Newly-appointed White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci is threatening to get the FBI involved in a crackdown on leaks from the Trump administration.

Mr Scaramucci, a Wall Street financier, said in a television interview that he has a "very good idea who the senior leakers are", adding that he had talked to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and to his "buddies" in the FBI about the matter.

In a tweet about his "leaked" financial documents late on Wednesday, Mr Scaramucci conspicuously mentioned the Twitter handle of White House chief of staff Reince Priebus.

Mr Scaramucci later deleted that tweet and said he had only mentioned Mr Priebus to show that all senior leaders are taking the leak crackdown seriously.

The since-deleted tweet read: "In light of the leak of my financial disclosure info which is a felony, I will be contacting @FBI and the @JusticeDept #swamp @Reince45"

Mr Scaramucci's financial disclosure was not leaked at all. It was released after a public records request by a Politico reporter.

Although he is new to the White House, Mr Scaramucci had been employed at a senior level by the Export-Import Bank since June 19. After 30 days, the financial disclosure forms filed by senior administration officials are subject to public records requests.

The issue of leaks has weighed heavily on US President Donald Trump as his administration tries to navigate questions about contacts some of his presidential campaign associates may have had with Russian government officials.

The recent revelation that Mr Trump's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr, and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, met with a Russian government lawyer has magnified those questions and fuelled Trump's frustration over leaks to the media.

Scaramucci told CNN that officials sometimes "leak things to reporters to help shape policy". But he said he wants to stop what he calls "nefarious, unnecessary, backstabbing, palace intrigue-like leaks".

Asked what he meant by including Mr Priebus, Mr Scaramucci said: "If Reince wants to explain he's not the leaker, he can do that."

At his White House debut last Friday, Mr Scaramucci addressed reports of a contentious relationship with Mr Priebus, saying that they are like brothers who "rough each other up a little".

Mr Priebus told The Associated Press last week that he supports Mr Scaramucci "100%", despite reportedly trying to prevent him from getting an administration position.

Ivanka Trump, the president's daughter, and her husband, powerful senior aide Mr Kushner, have known Mr Scaramucci for years from New York and pushed for his hiring.

Mr Scaramucci notably said he reports directly to the president, not to the chief of staff. That is a highly unusual arrangement for a communications director and a possible reflection that Mr Priebus' standing with Mr Trump is often uncertain.

Mr Trump's first White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, resigned last week with the news that Mr Scaramucci was being brought in as communications director.

AP

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