By James Law
One of Donald Trump's most senior staffers has unleashed an extraordinary, expletive-filled tirade against his colleagues as an "all-out civil war" consumes the White House.
Anthony Scaramucci, who was hired as Trump's new Communications Director a week ago, has been on a crusade against leakers within the administration. On Wednesday night, he reportedly called New Yorker reporter Ryan Lizza in a rage.
Earlier that evening Lizza had tweeted that a "senior White House official" told him Scaramucci was having dinner with Trump, First Lady Melania Trump, former Fox News executive Bill Shine and Fox News host Sean Hannity.
"Who leaked that to you?" Scaramucci asked, according to Lizza. "I ask these guys not to leak anything and they can't help themselves. You're an American citizen, this is a major catastrophe for the American country. So I'm asking you as an American patriot to give me a sense of who leaked it."
Lizza says Scaramucci saw the leak about his dinner with the President as proof other White House staffers - particularly Chief of Staff Reince Priebus - were undermining him.
"Is it an assistant to the President?" he pressed. Lizza refused to reveal his source. "OK, I'm going to fire every one of them, and then you haven't protected anybody, so the entire place will be fired over the next two weeks," Scaramucci responded.
"They'll all be fired by me. I fired one guy the other day. I have three to four people I'll fire tomorrow. I'll get to the person who leaked that to you. Reince Priebus - if you want to leak something - he'll be asked to resign very shortly," he said.
"Reince is a f***ing paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoiac."
Parodying Priebus's voice, he said: "Oh Bill Shine is coming in. Let me leak the f***ing thing and see if I can c**k-block these people the way I c**k-blocked Scaramucci for six months."
The, ahem, "c**k-blocking" in question is a reference to Priebus's attempts to stop Scaramucci from getting a job in the White House. While the communications director would normally work under the chief of staff, Scaramucci is reporting directly to Trump.
"What I want to do is f***ing kill all the leakers, and I want to get the president's agenda on track so we can succeed for the American people," Scaramucci continued. He said he had no interest in seeking media attention for himself, taking aim at another senior staffer, the president's political strategist Steve Bannon.
"I'm not Steve Bannon, I'm not trying to suck my own c**k. I'm not trying to build my own brand off the f***ing strength of the president. I'm here to serve the country."
Earlier today, the simmering animosity between Scaramucci and Priebus exploded on live TV.
Having only been in the job for less than a week, Scaramucci took to cable news channel CNN to air his grievances about White House staffers leaking information to the press.
In an extraordinary interview, Scaramucci implied that White House chief of staff Reince Priebus was the source of the leaks and challenged him to deny it.
"If Reince wants to explain he's not a leaker, let him do that," Scaramucci said in an conversation that lasted more than half an hour.
He also questioned whether his relationship with Priebus was "reparable" and said that there were staffers within the White House "who think it is their job to save America from this president".
CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins said the comments exposed an "all-out war in the White House".
Two stories in the press on Wednesday appear to have sparked Scaramucci's anger.
First, US political news site Politico obtained a copy of his financial disclosure form and published a story that showed he stood to profit from his stake in investment firm SkyBridge Capital.
He shot off a tweet, which he has since deleted, which said "In light of the leak of my financial disclosure info, which is a felony, I will be contacting @FBI and @TheJusticeDept #swamp @Reince45".
Many in Washington concluded that Scaramucci's mention of @Reince45 - the Twitter handle for Priebus - implied that the chief of staff was the leaker.
It has since emerged that Scaramucci's financial disclosure form was publicly available, and had not been obtained through a leak.
Scaramucci was angered further when it was leaked to the press that he had gone out for a private dinner on Wednesday night with Trump, first lady Melania Trump, Fox News firebrand Sean Hannity and former Fox News executive Bill Shine.
Scaramucci told CNN that it was "absolutely, completely and totally reprehensible" that details of the dinner were leaked within seven minutes of it happening.
"The President and I would like to tell everybody we have a very, very good idea who the senior leakers are in the White House," he said.
"We are working ... to undercut and undercover the leakers in the entire country.
"As you know from the Italian expression, the fish stinks from the head down. But I can tell you two fish that don't stink: that's me and the President."
Trump hired Scaramucci last Friday, prompting press secretary Sean Spicer to quit in protest.
Unlike the usual chain of command in a traditional White House, Scaramucci will report directly to the President, rather than Priebus, setting up a tense power dynamic between the communications director and the chief of staff.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders refused to say whether or not the President had confidence in his chief of staff on Thursday.
"We all serve at the pleasure of the President and if it gets to a place where that isn't the case, he'll let you know," she told reporters.
Scaramucci referred to Priebus last week as "like a brother", but during the CNN interview he implied that Priebus had not done enough to stop leaks coming out of the White House.
"If you want to talk about the chief of staff, we have had odds, we have had differences," he told CNN.
"When I said we were brothers from the podium, that's because we're rough on each other.
"Some brothers are like Cain and Abel. Other brothers can fight with each other and get along.
"I don't know if this is reparable or not, that will be up to the President, but he's the chief of staff, he's responsible for understanding and uncovering and helping me do that inside the White House, which is why I put that tweet out last night.
"When I put out a tweet and I put Reince's name in the tweet, they're all making the assumption that it's him because journalists know who the leakers are, so if Reince wants to explain that he's not a leaker, let him do that.
"I am a straight shooter. I'll go right to the heart of the matter."
His comments also revealed that there are a number of people within the White House actively working to frustrate the President's agenda via "nefarious, unnecessary, back-stabbing, palace-intrigue-like leaks".
"There are people inside the administration who think it is their job to save America from this president," Scaramucci said.
"That is not their job. Their job is to inject this president into America so he can explain his view properly and his policies so that we can transform America and drain the swamp, make the system fairer for the middle- and lower-income people.
"It is not their job from the establishment ... to sit there and try to withhold the President, to rein him in or do things to him that slow down his agenda."
Counsellor to the President Kellyanne Conway made a similar point on rival cable channel Fox News Wednesday morning, saying White House staffers were "using the press to shiv each other in the ribs".
Priebus has not responded to allegations that he is a leaker, but it has been widely reported in Washington that he opposed the appointment of Scaramucci as communications director.
It's worth noting that there was in fact no leak behind Politico's publishing of Scaramucci's financial disclosure form. The reporter said it was a public document available on request through official channels.
Huckabee Sanders said the President ran a White House where varied view points and healthy competition was encouraged.
"This is a White House that has a lot of different perspectives because the President hires the very best people," she told reporters on Thursday.
"They're not always going to agree, there are going to be a lot of different ideas. Unlike previous administrations, this isn't group think.
"We all come and have a chance to voice those ideas, voice those perspectives and have a lot of healthy competition and with that competition you usually get the best results."
The internal warring rages on among a number of other controversies in Washington.
The Pentagon and the Joint Chiefs of Staff - responsible for US military matters - were all blindsided by Trump's announcement on Wednesday morning that he would ban transgender people from serving in the military "in any capacity".
The White House was unable to answer how the ban would work and whether existing transgender personnel would be expelled from the armed forces.
Meanwhile, the President is ratcheting up the pressure on his attorney-general Jeff Sessions, who Mr Trump has branded as "beleaguered" and "very weak" for not investigating his rival candidate Hillary Clinton.