Former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci (A’86) threatened the Tufts Daily and Fletcher student, Camilo Caballero, with legal action over op-eds Caballero published in the school paper. Caballero’s op-eds built off a petition started by Fletcher student Carter Banker, which called for Scaramucci’s removal from the Board of Advisors of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.
Caballero published a series of op-eds on November 6, November 13, and November 27 in the Daily, where he referred to Scaramucci as “irresponsible,” “unethical,” and a person who “cares about gaining attention and nothing more,” as well as “a man who makes his Twitter accessible to friends interested in giving comfort to Holocaust deniers.”
On November 16, the Tufts Administration held a discussion with Fletcher students to discuss Banker’s petition, which over 240 students and school administrators signed. Scaramucci was scheduled to talk at the University on Monday, November 27 to discuss the petition and his role at Tufts.
However, a lawyer representing Scaramucci, Samuel Lieberman, sent a letter to the Tufts Daily and Caballero on November 21, claiming Caballero’s op-eds were defamatory and insisting they both apologize and issue a retraction. The letter, signed by Lieberman, stated that “Mr. Scaramucci is ready to take legal action to correct these false and defamatory statements—and to prevent further damage to his reputation—but will refrain from litigation if you retreat the false statements and issue a public apology.”
Scaramucci’s threat of legal action led the University to indefinitely postpone Scaramucci’s talk on November 27.
On Sunday, November 26, Scaramucci spoke to the Observer about the petition, and how he views the University’s decision to postpone his talk.
Scaramucci made it clear that he has “no problem with people writing up and signing a petition…saying they don’t want [him] to be a part of the school’s advisory board.” He believes these students “are entitled to their own opinion.”
He also emphasized that he wants to talk to students about the petition, saying, “The University cancelled my speaking event…I am ready and willing to come up to the University and meet with as many students and faculty members that are willing to meet with me. I have no problem with that.”
Scaramucci said that while he takes no issue with those who disagree with his political opinions, he involved his lawyers because “you can’t flat out lie about me and my business career.” Throughout his interview with the Observer, Scaramucci cited his “unblemished reputation” in business and on Wall Street. He said he would understand if students wanted him off the Fletcher Board of Advisors because he “used vulgarity in a private phone call with a New Yorker reporter” or even because he is a Trump supporter, because both of these facts are “totally true.” He continued, “you’re entitled to your opinion, but you aren’t entitled to your own facts.”
Scaramucci maintained that many of the claims in the Daily op-eds are “factually inaccurate,” “libelous,” and “defamatory.” He not only cited the allegations about his character, but also about his use of Twitter to give a platform to Holocaust deniers. Scaramucci outright rejected this claim, saying, “I’ve basically spent the last six or eight weeks rebutting that very aggressively; I actually visited last week Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem.”
When asked about the optics of threatening students and a student newspaper with legal action, Scaramucci responded, “When you guys get a little older and you start running businesses—especially if you are an entrepreneur—and your reputation in this business is super valuable…you will fight aggressively defamatory public remarks that are made about you whether they are in a student newspaper or a much larger publication.”
Scaramucci said that while he understands some might criticize him for threatening a school newspaper and a graduate student with legal action, he believes that criticism is “baby-ish.” “[Fletcher students] are 25-26 year old adults…they’ve got to hold themselves in an adult world very shortly.” Referring to Caballero and Banker, he said, “I did give them an opportunity to sit down and speak with me directly, which they did not want to do.”
Banker said the situation is not that simple, and that Scaramucci “isn’t understanding the power dynamics behind all of this.” She believes Scaramucci is “abusing his authority” as someone with an advisory role at the University and said his litigiousness only furthers her point. “Do we really want this person representing us?” she asked. Her answer, made clear by the petition, is a resounding “no.”
Scaramucci did not threaten Banker with a lawsuit, unlike he did to Caballero, who is now being represented by the ACLU. Scaramucci insists his threat of litigation is not working to suppress free speech, saying, “I view this school as a campus that [has] a long-standing association with free speech.” He continued, “[Caballero] can say I’m short, he can say I’m fat, he can say I’m balding, he can say he doesn’t like my politics, he can express any opinion that he wants, but what he can’t do is…challenge factually my business career.”
Scaramucci said he hopes Caballero and the Daily do end up apologizing and that he is able to speak to students about the petition. He maintained that his letter was a proportional response to the op-eds, saying “You can’t play in a big boy or a big girl pond and then if you don’t like the reaction that someone has to you, you can’t claim, ‘well, wait a minute, I’m not in a big boy pond.’”
At the time of publication, the Observer was unable to reach Caballero’s ACLU legal representative, Matthew Segal, for comment.