In a series of tweets Sunday morning, Arthur Schwartz, a former spokesperson and self-described friend of incoming White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci, lit into former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, accusing him of having a mistress.
Three hours later, Schwartz deleted the tweets and apologized to Priebus, calling the earlier accusations “stupid.”
“Oppo” is short for “opposition research,” a term of art for damaging information on a political opponent. The deer emoji is an apparent reference to “Prancer,” Priebus’s reported nickname among his White House critics after a photo circulated of him in a Christmas sweater that had a reindeer on it.
Schwartz followed that tweet with another where he threatened to release damaging information on Priebus to the press: “Hey @Reince. Remember when people told you that it was me that was trashing you in the press? They were right. Happy to start again.”
Once reporters began to pick up the tweets, Schwartz quickly turned on them for describing him as Scaramucci’s “publicist” or “representative,” claiming instead that he was only a friend of Scaramucci.
“Never was his publicist. Always been his friend. That’s it,” Schwartz tweeted in reply to a question from CNN reporter Jake Tapper.
As several reporters pointed out, a Fox Business News article from June 7 on a possibly White House role for Scaramucci names him as Scaramucci’s “spokesman.”
Schwartz, formerly of the public relations firm MWW, did not seem to object to the title then. On June 23, he tweeted a screen shot of Fox article to prove his inside knowledge of Scaramucci during a fight with another Twitter user.
“No, I’m pretty sure that I’m way more informed than you on this particular subject. But I could be wrong,” Schwarz tweeted, above a screenshot of the article calling him Scaramucci’s “spokesman.”
No, I'm pretty sure that I'm way more informed than you on this particular subject. But I could be wrong. pic.twitter.com/JvD00UQ1qP
— Arthur Schwartz (@ArthurSchwartz) July 23, 2017
Schwartz’s attacks on Priebus come two days after President Donald Trump announced on Twitter that he will replace Priebus as his chief of staff with Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly. There are conflicting reports on whether Priebus was fired or resigned.
In a profanity-laced interview with The New Yorker published Thursday, Scaramucci dug into his then-coworker. The interview seemed to foretell Priebus’s ouster, which came 24 hours later.
“Reince is a fucking paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoiac,” Scaramucci told The New Yorker. He went on to accuse Priebus of leaking damaging information about him to the press—echoing an obsessions with leaks and an animosity toward the press that permeates the Trump White House.
In a series of back-and-forths on Twitter, Schwartz singled out Tapper, ProPublica reporter Jessica Huseman, and New York Post reporter Dana Schuster as “fake news,” even threatening to publish proof that Tapper leaked news about CNN to other media outlets:
The attacks on Tapper, in particular, are part of a long-running pattern for Schwartz, who regularly takes to Twitter to criticize the CNN host and other “fake news clowns,” as he called them in one tweet.
— Arthur Schwartz (@ArthurSchwartz) July 14, 2017
— Arthur Schwartz (@ArthurSchwartz) July 24, 2017
— Arthur Schwartz (@ArthurSchwartz) March 24, 2017
By mid-morning, however, Schwartz had an apparent change of heart toward Priebus. Schwartz deleted two of his earlier tweets and publicly apologized.
I deleted my tweets re @Reince & apologized to him. Pretty sure he's not accepting my apology. Can't blame him. I'm ashamed of what I said.
— Arthur Schwartz (@ArthurSchwartz) July 30, 2017
Priebus apparently accepted the apology, according to a second tweet by Schwartz, though it’s unclear how the two communicated. There was no mention of the controversy on Priebus’ public Twitter timeline as of press time.
The reversal came after Schwartz tweeted, in response to another Twitter user, that Scaramucci had asked him to “cut it out.”