Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, has been named as President-elect Donald Trump’s White House Chief of Staff.
Mr Priebus had been picked for the role from a shortlist that also included Steve Bannon, the Breitbart supremo brought in to run the triumphant Trump presidential campaign in its final weeks. Mr Bannon will serve instead as Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor to the President, according to a statement issued by the Trump transition team.
“Steve and Reince are highly qualified leaders who worked well together on our campaign and led us to a historic victory,” President-elect Trump said. “Now I will have them both with me in the White House as we work to make America great again.”
Mr Priebus’s appointment suggests Mr Trump is prepared to work closely with the Republican establishment to craft and execute his agenda, a signal that will reassure congressional GOP leaders, but which also threatens to anger voters to whom Mr Trump promised a break from business as usual.
Grassroots conservative group the Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund had warned Mr Trump against appointing a “Washington insider” to be his White House enforcer. “Appointing Reince Priebus (or any other DC establishment insider) would make it more difficult, not less, for President Trump to achieve the change the people voted for,” Jenny Beth Martin, the group’s co-founder, told CNN on Friday. “It's time to drain the swamp — not promote insiders beholden to the Washington establishment who helped create it.”
Mr Priebus, a 44-year-old Wisconsin native, has close personal relationships with fellow Midwesterners Mike Pence and Paul Ryan, the vice president-elect and House Speaker respectively.
Elected to his current role in 2010, he is now the longest-serving RNC Chairman in the party’s history. He also embraced Mr Trump while other party grandees maintained their distance from the businessman’s divisive campaign. During his election night victory speech, Mr Trump described Mr Priebus as “a superstar”.
“It is truly an honour to join President-elect Trump in the White House as his Chief of Staff,” Mr Priebus said. “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.”
The former lawyer was said to be favoured for the key administration post by Mr Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, the owner of the New York Observer, who also took a central role in overseeing his father-in-law’s campaign.
To many who oppose Mr Trump’s presidency, Mr Bannon’s elevation will be the more concerning: as the chairman of Breitbart News, the former naval officer and Goldman Sachs investment banker is considered a driving force behind the rise of white nationalism and the so-called “alt-right”, which was emboldened by Mr Trump’s racially charged campaign.
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