The Mooch Threatened a Tufts Student with a Lawsuit

An Anthony Scaramucci event at the university was postponed after he threatened to sue for defamation.

Anthony Scaramucci in aviators and a suit

Photo via AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Anthony “The Mooch” Scaramucci has rocketed back into the headlines this week, this time after getting extremely mad about opinions shared in Tufts University’s student newspaper, The Tufts Daily.

Following the confrontation, the university says it’s “disappointed” and has postponed a Scaramucci event that was supposed to happen Monday, according to The Boston Globe while the threat of a lawsuit for defamation hangs in the air.

Here’s what happened: Scaramucci, a Tufts alum and the ousted spokesman for President Trump (after his ludicrous and now infamous call with the New Yorker, currently serves on an advisory board for Tufts’ Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy when he isn’t running a confusing media operation named after himself. Many in the Tufts community have predictably been opposed to a man like the Mooch being so honored, and have called for him to be forced out. Among those making that case has been Tufts graduate student Camilo Caballero, who in an op-ed piece on November 6 wrote that Scaramucci was “unethical,” and that the board has hurt its reputation by continuing to have him as a member. Caballero criticized, for example, the Scaramucci-affiliated “Scaramucci Post” for its widely condemned Twitter poll about the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust (Scaramucci later apologized, saying the inadvisable poll was “an effort to promote Holocaust education and awareness”).

[T]here sits on the Board of Advisors of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts a man whose career and ideals are diametrically opposed to those ideas and who sullies the vision of the University.

This is Anthony Scaramucci, a man who began his infamously short career as the White House communications director by uttering profanity-laced comments on national news outlets, the man who sold his soul in contradiction to his own purported beliefs for a seat in that White House and a man who makes his Twitter accessible to friends interested in giving comfort to Holocaust deniers.

A man who is irresponsible, inconsistent, an unethical opportunist and who exuded the highest degree of disreputability should not be on the Fletcher Board.

A follow-up Caballero wrote called on Tufts administrators to respond to an anti-Scaramucci petition, signed by 240 students.

Scaramucci, apparently, fumed. He first reached out to the student two weeks ago in an email obtained by the Boston Globe, in which he called the opinion pieces defamatory and warned the student that he had better back up his assertions or “you will hear from my lawyer.”

Then on November 21, Caballero heard from his lawyer. “Mr. Scaramucci is ready to take legal action,” attorney Samuel J. Lieberman wrote both to Caballero and The Tufts Daily, “to correct these false and defamatory statements—and to prevent any further damage to his reputation—but will refrain from litigation if you retract the false statements and issue a public apology.”

Both op-eds remain published on the paper’s website, and the opinions remain un-apologized for.

The American Civil Liberties Union on Monday afternoon announced it is advising Caballero, and condemned what it characterized as part of a pattern of behavior from Trump and those in his orbit. “While we continue to review Anthony Scaramucci’s threats, there is no doubt that sending a graduate student a legal demand letter accusing him of libel just two days before Thanksgiving – and demanding turnaround of five business days – is plainly mean-spirited,” said Carol Rose, ACLU of Massachusetts’ executive director, in a written statement. “Unfortunately, however, his actions are not entirely surprising, as they are completely consistent with President Trump’s ongoing attacks against the press and free speech rights guaranteed by the First Amendment. This matter seems to be one where the apple doesn’t fall far from the Trump.”

Scaramucci Sunday and Monday took to Twitter to tangle with political observers and Tufts community members who criticized his decision to demand an apology under the threat of a lawsuit. “You can’t defame people in America because you don’t like their political views,” he wrote to one Tufts professor. “I didn’t realize you were still alive?” he wrote to a New York journalist. “What happened to your career?”

Why would The Mooch, a gigantic magnet for negative media coverage, pick a fight like this at the relatively low-profile op-ed page of a college newspaper? It’s not entirely clear. But from experience, we know people are sensitive as hell about coverage of them at their alma mater. Just ask Manchester by the Sea director Kenneth Lonergan.

This post has been updated to include a statement from the ACLU of Massachusetts.