GOP insiders, outsiders to go head-to-head in White House
President-elect Donald Trump selects Reince Priebus and Stephen Bannon to help lead administration
WASHINGTON— President-elect Donald Trump awarded two vital West Wing positions Sunday, selecting Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus as his chief of staff and Steve Bannon, Trump’s campaign CEO, to be his chief strategist and senior counselor. Each man represents a different wing within the Republican Party and together will be instrumental in shaping the direction of the future Trump administration.
“Steve and Reince are highly qualified leaders who worked well together on our campaign and led us to a historic victory,” Trump said in a statement. “Now I will have them both with me in the White House as we work to make America great again.’
Priebus, 44, is the RNC’s longest serving chairman after taking over in 2011. He is a seasoned veteran on Capitol Hill and has built close relationships with many inside the Republican Party. In his new position, Priebus will hire West Wing staff and lead the day-to-day operations in Trump’s White House.
During the primary season, Priebus remained neutral on Trump’s candidacy, but ultimately became one of the first to embrace the businessman after he clinched the nomination in May. As the head of the RNC, Priebus helped to calm the waters within the party for those still anxious about Trump running up to Election Day. Trump’s chief of staff pick has brought a warm reception amid conservative circles.
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins called it a “wise” selection. He said Sunday Priebus helped revitalize a struggling GOP over the last five years and cemented a strong conservative party platform.
Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List said Priebus’ selection further ensures a Trump administration will advance pro-life ideals.
“Under his RNC tenure, the GOP has passed several groundbreaking pro-life resolutions, and ratified the strongest pro-life platform in the party’s history at the 2016 convention,” she said. “I look forward to working together with Reince Priebus to implement President-elect Trump's pro-life agenda.”
Some antiestablishment Trump supporters expressed disappointment in the president-elect’s choice and said he was going back on his promise to “drain the swamp” in Washington by picking a political insider as chief of staff.
“This election was a rejection of the inside-the-beltway elites, and Priebus’ appointment to this critical role would bring many of those who ridiculed and undercut Mr. Trump and his supporters into positions of influence,” said Rick Manning, president of Americans for Limited Government.
In a seeming answer to those concerns, Trump chose as his chief strategist Bannon, 62, who has built a career trying to upend the GOP establishment. Bannon took a leave of absence as executive chairman of the news site Breitbart to help lead Trump’s campaign in August. A former Hollywood producer and Goldman Sachs managing director, Bannon took over Breitbart in 2012 and quickly excited readers on what he calls the “alt-right.” In his own remarks, Bannon has defined the alt-right as a form of nationalism that is not inherently racist. Bannon has the backing of a number of white nationalist groups such as the Traditionalist Workers Party and the Aryan Renaissance Society, both of whom praised Bannon’s appointment.
Ben Shapiro, a conservative writer and former Breitbart editor who left the site after clashing with Bannon, said his former boss is a “legitimately sinister figure” who embraced the support of white supremacists for political gain.
Criticism for Bannon stems from work at Breitbart, but also accusations against him in the past.
In 2007, Bannon’s ex-wife testified in court that he didn’t like Jews and didn’t want his children going to school with them. Bannon has since denied these claims.
This morning, Priebus came to Bannon’s defense.
“He was a force for good on the campaign,” Priebus told Fox & Friends. “I haven’t seen any of these things that people are crying out about.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said he accepted Bannon’s appointment.
“I’ve never met the guy,” Ryan told CNN. “I don’t know Steve Bannon, so I have no concerns. I trust Donald’s judgment. I think he will pick who will best serve him, and I’m sure we will work well with whomever his chief of staff is.”
If you enjoyed this article and would like to support WORLD's brand of Biblically sound journalism, click here.