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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Wednesday, November 29, 2023

University revokes Scaramucci’s invitation to speak on campus

The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy on Tufts' Medford/Somerville campus is pictured on Oct 14, 2014.
UPDATE: On Tuesday morning, Anthony Scaramucci resigned from The Fletcher School Board of Advisors effective immediately, according to an email to the Fletcher community from Dean James Stavridis and Provost David Harris.

Former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci (LA ’86) has threatened to file a lawsuit against the Daily and against Camilo Caballero, a second-year Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy (MALD) student, for op-eds written by Caballero about Scaramucci on Nov. 6 and Nov. 13.

Scaramucci took issue with “defamatory statements,” that were published in Caballero’s op-eds, specifically instances in which Caballero refers to Scaramucci as an “unethical opportunist” and someone who engages with “friends interested in giving comfort to Holocaust deniers,"  "who sold his soul in contradiction to his own purported beliefs for a seat in that White House" and who "cares about gaining attention and nothing more."

In response to Scaramucci's threats, the Daily published the letter it received from Sadis & Goldberg LLP, the law firm Scaramucci has retained for the case.

Following Scaramucci’s threat of a lawsuit, the university postponed his visit to campus, according to Patrick Collins, executive director of public relations for Tufts University. 

“We did not think it would be appropriate or in the best interests of our students, some of whom could be party to potential legal actions, to proceed with the event while legal matters and potential lawsuits are pending,” Collins told the Daily in an email.

Katie Mulroy, director of student affairs at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, was the one who delivered the news to the Fletcher community that the event would not take place as scheduled, writing the following email:

“Due to unforeseen circumstances, the events with Anthony Scaramucci scheduled for Monday have been postponed,” Mulroy said. 

Collins said the university was disappointed in Scaramucci’s actions. He added that the administration has reached out to the Daily and the student named in Scaramucci’s letter to offer support and guidance.

In an email to the Fletcher community, Dean of The Fletcher School James Stavridis and Provost and Senior Vice President David Harris said they were disappointed in Scaramucci's actions. 

"We're disappointed that Mr. Scaramucci has taken this action. The university had worked with Mr. Scaramucci and members of the Fletcher community to facilitate on-campus conversations this afternoon and evening," Stavridis and Harris said. "In light of potential legal action against Tufts students and the student newspaper, we postponed today’s events."

They added that the university stands in support with the students.

"We stand firmly in support of the students. Throughout the day, Tufts administrators have reached out to students to offer support in many ways, including legal assistance. We will continue to offer support in the days ahead," the email said.

Scaramucci defended himself against the accusations made in the Daily by various Fletcher students in a letter to the students and faculty of The Fletcher School posted to his Twitter Monday night. First, Scaramucci challenged that he was a hypocritical opportunist, noting that he has been a lifelong Republican with a few exceptions. He also discounted the notion that he was disreputable, explaining that in his long business career, he has received zero material customer complaints and has never been named as the defendant in a lawsuit.

He further rejected the accusation that he "makes his Twitter accessible to friends interested in giving comfort to Holocaust deniers," a claim originally made by Caballero in his op-ed. Scaramucci said the post was made by his Jewish business partner Lance Laifer to draw attention to Amazon's insensitivity for selling an Anne Frank halloween costume.

In a press release sent to the Daily, Executive Director of the ACLU of Massachusetts Carol Rose condemned Scaramucci's actions, noting they were unsurprising and consistent with what one would expect from an associate of President Donald Trump.

“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,” Rose said.

Carter Banker, the second-year MALD candidate who started the petition to remove Scaramucci, said she was shocked when she heard about Scaramucci’s threat of legal action. She found out when a reporter from the Boston Globe called her.

Banker sent a mass email to her classmates after learning more about the situation, in which she commented on the unequal power dynamic she perceived.

“I for one, wish the university had not canceled the event tomorrow, because I think it would really be a great opportunity for us to tell him what we think about all of this, but I also understand why they did,” Banker said in her email. “Our campus is not and should not become a platform for the powerful to intimidate the less powerful.”

Banker has been in communication with Caballero, who she described as an exemplary student and an admirable person. She said no one in their right mind would go up against someone like Caballero in court.

“I don’t think he [Scaramucci] has any real intention on following through with the lawsuit. I think he would be eviscerated in court," she said. 

Banker said Scaramucci’s move was underhanded, and she speculated about why he was hiding behind a lawsuit.

“Anything that’s going to keep him in the spotlight is fair game,” she said. “That was my first thought. My second thought, which came after talking to some people about the issue, was that he never wanted to come speak with us in the first place and that he would rather deal with a lawsuit than actually confront the student body.”

Alex Henrie is a first-year MALD student who wrote an op-ed on Nov. 20 in which he criticized the petition to remove Scaramucci from the Fletcher Board of Advisors. He said the community was too quick to judge Scaramucci and that they did not have enough evidence against him to ask for his removal. 

“As diplomats, business leaders, politicians or whatever we may become, making sweeping judgments based on limited information would be dangerous and counterproductive,” Henrie wrote in his op-ed.

Henrie said that Scaramucci's recent actions give more validity to those who want to remove Scaramucci from the board.

“It seems really inappropriate to go after a student at the school where he is an advisor,” Henrie said.

Henrie added that Caballero was expressing his own opinions, not misrepresenting facts. By this reasoning, he said, it is difficult to argue that Caballero’s statements were defamatory.

In regards to the threatened lawsuit, Henrie said that it is technically legal and rich people like Scaramucci can choose to spend their money how they please.

“If we’re saying we’re going to get him off the board, it can’t be because he’s breaking the law,” Henrie said. “He’s not. It has to be because he’s violating some code of conduct or some code of ethics of Fletcher, and that doesn’t exist yet.”

He advocated for more patience in this process, and in politics in general. Ultimately, Henrie said he trusts the administration to make the correct decision in regard to Scaramucci’s position as an advisor to the Fletcher School.

In their email to the student body, Stavridis and Harris said the Board of Trustees would approve a policy for removing advisors, which does not currently exist by the end of January.

Professor of Management Alnoor Ebrahimwho works with multiple non-governmental organizations on the structures of their boards, said that like many people, he was surprised by Scaramucci’s threats. Ebrahim said people were genuinely interested in hearing from Scaramucci about his experience in both the public and private sectors.

“He had a remarkable opportunity to actually engage with students,” Ebrahim said. “Why not take that opportunity to actually show leadership and engagement and discussion rather than threatening to sue? It doesn’t make much sense to me.”

Ebrahim lauded Fletcher students for demonstrating the global leadership values that the school tries to instill in them.

“They’ve been open to inviting Scaramucci to speak on campus despite some of them strongly disagreeing with his views and his approach. They’ve been open to engaging with him in the spirit of deliberation and intellectual engagement. In addition, they’ve demonstrated remarkable restraint and respect for proper process.”

Professor of Practice of International Politics and Law Antonia Chayes, one of a handful of professors who signed Banker’s petition, expressed her disappointment in Scaramucci’s self-conduct. She encouraged Caballero to continue to voice his opinions.

“I think [Scaramucci's] actions are unbecoming to a member of any advisory board at the University," Chayes said.

On Twitter, Scaramucci engaged in a back-and-forth with Fletcher Professor of International Politics Daniel Drezner.

“I didn’t back out of speaking at Tufts,” Scaramucci tweeted. “The provost cancelled my invitation.”

“Stop baselessly threatening to sue students and I’m sure you’ll be invited back,” Drezner replied.