Scaramucci says Bannon to blame for Trump's response to Charlottesville

Former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci says President Trump's much-criticized response to the attack and violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia were influenced by one Mr. Trump's closest advisers, Steve Bannon.

Speaking on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" on Sunday in his first TV interview since being removed from his White House post after 11 days on the job, Scaramucci said he wouldn't have recommended the statement Mr. Trump provided in response to the weekend's events, saying it needed to be "much harsher", but that those closest to the president were "reluctant to tell him the truth."

"You also got this sort of Bannon-bart influence in there, which I think is a snag on the president," suggested Scaramucci, referring to Bannon's former right-wing news outlet, Breitbart News. "If the president really wants to execute that legislative agenda that I think is so promising for the American people, the lower-middle class people and the middle class people, then he has to move away from that sort of Bannon-bart nonsense." 

Bannon, Mr. Trump's chief strategist, once declared the site was considered "the platform for the alt-right." In a phone call with a New Yorker reporter preceding his exit as White House communications director last month, Scaramucci criticized Bannon

Scaramucci said Mr. Trump instead needs to "move more into the mainstream, he's got to be more into where the moderates are and the independents are." He added, "if he does that, he'll have a very successful legislative agenda that he'll be able to execute."

"If he doesn't do that, you're going to see inertia and you're going to see this resistance from more of the establishment senators that he needs to curry favor with."

Scaramucci conceded, however, that no one is ultimately going to "change the president" and his way of thinking. 

"The president is going to to do what he wants to do how he wants to it, but I think it's important for the people around him...to give them direct advice. To be blunt with him. I think he respects bluntness and he respects candor."

Mr. Trump's initial statement following the weekend's violent clashes and subsequent car attack placed blame for the violence on "many sides," drawing immediate backlash for not explicitly condemning white supremacists and hate other groups. 

When asked if Bannon should be the next White House staffer to exit the West Wing, Scaramucci told Stephanopoulos, "I think the president has a very good idea of who the leakers are inside the White House. The president has a very good idea of the people that are undermining his agenda that are serving their own interests."