Less than a week after his election, Donald Trump has begun to fill out the team he plans to bring with him to the White House. The president-elect announced Sunday that he has selected Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus to serve as chief of staff in his incoming administration.
In the same announcement, Priebus’ appointment shared top billing with the news that Trump campaign CEO Stephen K. Bannon will serve as chief strategist and senior counselor to the president.
“I am thrilled to have my very successful team continue with me in leading our country,” said Trump said in the emailed statement. “Steve and Reince are highly qualified leaders who worked well together on our campaign and led us to a historic victory. Now I will have them both with me in the White House as we work to make America great again.”
The dual selections are likely to send two separate signals to those closely watching Trump’s transition into power.
The choice of Priebus, who has served as party chairman since 2011, suggests conciliation toward the establishment Republicans with whom Trump has often shared a strained relationship. A veteran GOP operative, Priebus is well accustomed to the capital’s corridors of power. As NPR’s Eyder Peralta reports for our NewsCast unit, “In Priebus, Trump finds a Washington insider” — and one who stayed loyal to Trump during a frequently rocky campaign.
“I am very grateful to the President-elect for this opportunity to serve him and this nation as we work to create an economy that works for everyone, secure our borders, repeal and replace Obamacare and destroy radical Islamic terrorism,” Priebus said in the statement.
Meanwhile, the inclusion of Bannon, the former head of the far-right outlet Breitbart News, suggests another direction entirely. Rumored to be have been considered for chief of staff himself, Bannon “would have been the insurgent choice” for the top aide job, Eyder says. He is “known for his no-holds-barred approach to politics and his popularity among the alt-right,” as NPR’s Sarah McCammon reported last week.
NPR political editor Domenico Montanaro has more on the man who helped steer Trump’s campaign during its final months:
“Unquestionably, [Bannon] is a take-no-prisoners operative. A former Hollywood producer, a Goldman Sachs managing director, as well, he ran the Breitbart website, which has become synonymous with the alt-right. And he’s certainly no fan of the establishment Republicans.”
The statement did not clarify the distribution of duties between the two men, but said they will work “as equal partners to transform the federal government.”