Trump named Reince Priebus, the head of the Republican National Committee, as his chief of staff. In appointing Priebus, 44, Trump has brought into his White House a Washington insider who is viewed as broadly acceptable by vast swaths of the party, and he signaled a willingness to work within the establishment he assailed on the campaign trail.
But the president-elect sent an opposing signal by tapping Stephen K. Bannon, his combative campaign chief and former head of the incendiary Breitbart News, as his chief strategist and senior counselor. Bannon, 62, has openly attacked congressional leadership, taking particular aim at House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) — who recommended Priebus for his new job.
Priebus, after the Access Hollywood video:
Nothing has changed in regard with our relationship,” Priebus said in a call with RNC committee members, according to sources on the call. “We are in full coordination with the Trump campaign. We have a great relationship with them. And we are going to continue to work together to make sure he wins in November.
Priebus, on Face the Natiom earlier this year, speaking about those Republicans pulling their support from Trump:
Those people need to get on board. And if they’re thinking they’re going to run again someday, you know, I think that we’re going to evaluate the process of the nomination process, and I don’t think it’s going to be that easy for them.
In choosing Reince Priebus—someone who supported his campaign throughout the election and threatened to punish those parts of the Republican establishment that opposed him—Trump signals a willingness to work with the establishment1.
Update: From the Times, what amounts to a mini-profile of both Priebus and Bannon, as well as the strategies behind their appointment.
The simultaneous announcement and competing lines of authority are consistent with Mr. Trump’s management style in his businesses and in his campaign: creating rival power structures beneath him and encouraging them to battle it out.
It is also a reflection of who has the ear of the president-elect: his children, and especially his eldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, and her husband, Jared Kushner. Both had argued that the chief of staff job should not be held by someone too controversial, according to several people familiar with the decision-making inside the transition effort.
- I get that Preibus belongs to the establishment. But, so did Bannon, who, before taking over Breitbart, worked as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs. These aren’t mixed signals. This is the same signal. Demonstrate loyalty, particularly one tinged with vindictiveness towards those seen as disloyal, and you get rewarded. ↩