WASHINGTON — Since his 11-day tenure as the White House communications director ended in 2017 after an infamously foul-mouthed interview, Anthony Scaramucci has spent the past two years carving out a reliable niche for himself: defending President Trump on television networks like CNN and MSNBC where he has few on-camera allies.
But Mr. Trump’s trip last week to meet with the victims of two mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio — a visit punctuated by private anger at his aides over negative news media coverage and public attacks on his political adversaries — appeared to be a bridge too far for Mr. Scaramucci.
“He’s off the rails,” Mr. Scaramucci said in an interview on Monday. “And the honest people in the room know that he is crazy.”
Mr. Scaramucci, a Republican investor who so shares Mr. Trump’s love of media attention that White House aides used to call him the president’s Mini-Me, has spent several days defecting from his reliably pro-Trump stance. He has sided with a chorus of critics who said the president’s behavior on last week’s trip, as well as his recent comments on race, was damaging for the country.
“The president didn’t do well on the trip,” Mr. Scaramucci said Thursday on MSNBC. “He’d probably be mad at somebody for saying that. Maybe he’ll tweet something negative about somebody for saying he didn’t do well on the trip.”
That is, of course, exactly what happened.
On vacation in Bedminster, N.J., Mr. Trump tweeted on Saturday that Mr. Scaramucci “would do anything to come back” into the fold and that he “knows very little about me.”
Since then, the two men have been locked in a public insult battle, each seemingly intent on having the last word on all available media platforms.
“Scaramucci, who like so many others had nothing to do with my Election victory, is only upset that I didn’t want him back in the Administration (where he desperately wanted to be),” Mr. Trump tweeted on Monday. “Also, I seldom had time to return his many calls to me. He just wanted to be on TV!”
Mr. Scaramucci, a slicked-haired Long Islander, has responded with a voluminous supply of sound bites that have compared Mr. Trump to the Chernobyl disaster and criticized the president’s ability to deliver an insult.
On Monday, in an interview conducted between several television appearances and one on the radio, Mr. Scaramucci said the president was using his office to abuse individual Americans. “The president is obviously a bully,” Mr. Scaramucci said. “He is the president of all Americans, but he is singling out specific Americans to cyberbully them.”
Mr. Scaramucci also called on Republicans to speak up against the president, acknowledging criticism on Twitter that he had waited too long to speak out, in part because he had supported Mr. Trump’s policies.
“A couple more weeks like this and ‘country over party’ is going to require the Republicans to replace the top of the ticket in 2020,” he told the news site Axios on Sunday — a line that he repeated throughout the day on Monday.
In an interview, Mr. Scaramucci did not say who in the Republican Party he believed should step in, but “those closest are the most concerned” about Mr. Trump’s behavior.
“The behavior is nihilistic,” Mr. Scaramucci said. “If it continues, responsible people will have to speak up.”
But on Monday, two former White House officials disputed the idea that people around the president were concerned that his recent comments had crossed the line. One of them called Mr. Scaramucci’s criticism “hypocritical.” Another said aides were so desensitized to criticism that the backlash to the president’s trip last week was not going to faze them.
The official line from the White House was tougher.
“He worked at the White House for less than two weeks and is certainly no expert on this president,” Stephanie Grisham, the White House press secretary, said in a statement. “This is all self-serving on his part, and the media plays right into it. It’s embarrassing to watch.”
The public spat appears to close the door on Mr. Scaramucci’s friendly relationship with the White House. In July 2017, he replaced Mike Dubke as communications director. Mr. Scaramucci was gone by the end of that month — “a great day at the White House!” Mr. Trump tweeted when Mr. Scaramucci was fired by John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff at the time.
Since then, the role has been held by Hope Hicks, a former campaign press secretary, and Bill Shine, the former Fox News executive who left the job after Mr. Trump grew frustrated with him for not delivering on a promise of positive news coverage. Now, Ms. Grisham has added the role of communications director to her portfolio.