James Stavridis, dean of The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and David Harris, provost and senior vice president, informed The Fletcher School’s community on Tuesday morning that Anthony Scaramucci (LA ’86) had resigned from his position on the Board of Advisors.
“We thank Mr. Scaramucci for his past service to Tufts and wish him well,” they wrote in an email.
This news was the culmination of several weeks of back-and-forth between Scaramucci and members of the Fletcher community, which all began when Carter Banker, a second-year Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy (MALD) student, started a petition to have him removed from the Fletcher Board of Advisors.
Scaramucci had been on the Fletcher Board of Advisors since June 2016.
Scaramucci’s resignation followed the publication of a public letter to The Fletcher School students and faculty that he posted online on Monday night.
Scaramucci told the Daily in an email that he chose to resign after the university cancelled his scheduled Nov. 27 appearance, following his threat of suing second-year MALD student Camilo Caballero and The Tufts Daily for “defamatory” op-eds.
“Once the University made the decision to cancel my appearance I felt it was the diplomatic thing to do. I enjoyed my 35 year relationship with the University and I am looking forward to the new challenges ahead,” Scaramucci told the Daily in an email.
Banker said that, although she considered this a win, she was disappointed by the way the events unfolded, specifically regarding Scaramucci’s threat to sue Caballero and the Daily for defamation.
“It got really nasty at the end,” Banker said. “As the person who started the petition, that was really never my intention — for it to go in that direction. That was frustrating and disappointing to me.”
Banker added that she did not think Scaramucci completely understood why she and other community members were upset. She noted that in his open letter, Scaramucci was trying to address multiple people and that in the process, the narratives all became entangled.
“I honestly think that him coming to have a conversation — which would have happened if he hadn’t threatened to sue people — could have been very helpful for his understanding,” she said.
Not all students supported Banker’s petition to remove Scaramucci, as evidenced by first-year MALD student Alex Henrie’s Nov. 20 op-ed.
Banker said Fletcher School Executive Associate Dean Gerard Sheehan sent her a message Tuesday morning congratulating her for her tenacity throughout the entire process.
Fletcher Professor of International Politics Daniel Drezner, who has been engaged in a Twitter feud with Scaramucci over the past few days, wrote in a Washington Post op-ed that Scaramucci has not fulfilled his duties as a member of the Board of Advisors.
“A Fletcher administrator and Scaramucci confirmed to me that since being appointed, he has neither attended an advisory board meeting nor given a single dollar to the school,” Drezner wrote.
Advisors are supposed to provide advice to the deans, philanthropically support the university and serve as ambassadors of the university, Board of Advisors Program Director Jonathan Kaplan said at a Nov. 16 conversation between students and administrators regarding the petition to remove Scaramucci.
ACLU Responds to Scaramucci
On the same day as Scaramucci’s resignation, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Massachusetts responded to his threats of legal action by sending a letter to Samuel J. Lieberman, the lawyer retained by Scaramucci.
The response was sent on behalf of Caballero, whom the ACLU of Massachusetts has taken on as a client. In the letter, Legal Director Matthew Segal and Senior Attorney Ruth Bourquin argue that claims of defamation made by Scaramucci and Lieberman are without merit and the legal threats should cease.
The letter argues that Caballero’s op-eds are overwhelmingly made up of opinions backed up by true facts, which prevents his statements from qualifying as defamation because they do not include false assertions of facts. Instead, the lawyers say that the op-eds contain “rhetorical flourishes” that are clearly expressions of opinion.
“Mr. Scaramucci himself is no stranger to rhetorical flourishes. For example, following news reports about your letter, some have criticized Mr. Scaramucci for threatening to sue a school newspaper and graduate student at his alma mater. In response, Mr. Scaramucci has reportedly called such criticism ‘baby-ish,’” the letter reads. “We view this remark as rhetoric expressing your client’s constitutionally-protected opinions about his critics. We do not interpret Mr. Scaramucci’s statement as an assertion that his critics are, in fact, infants.”
Additionally, the letter says that Scaramucci qualifies as a public figure. The letter notes that, according to legal precedent, this designation would require proof of “actual malice,” or that Caballero either knowingly published false statements or published them with reckless disregard for the facts.
In their letter, the ACLU of Massachusetts’ lawyers defended the right to express Caballero’s critical point of view.
“By using wealth and power to try to silence freedom of the press, your client is proving the very point that Mr. Caballero was making in urging Mr. Scaramucci’s removal from the Board of Advisors,” the letter reads.
Banker wished Scaramucci well but said she had one question left unanswered.
“I would want to know why he wanted to be on the Fletcher board and why he held on for so long. What does it mean to him? Do you see it as prestigious?” she said. “That’s one of many things about this man that baffles me.”