President-elect Donald Trump announced on Sunday that Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus will be his chief of staff and Steve Bannon, his campaign’s chief executive and the former chairman of the conservative website Breitbart News, will serve as his chief strategist and senior counselor. The announcement came in a statement sent out by Trump’s transition team that said the pair would work as “equal partners” in a continuation of “the effective leadership team they formed during the campaign.” Bannon received top billing in the campaign’s announcement.
Late last week, the New York Times reported that Trump’s choice for chief of staff had been whittled down to Priebus and Bannon. Both Priebus and Bannon traveled with Trump during the final weeks of his grueling campaign.
The chief of staff traditionally sets the tone in the White House, acts as gatekeeper to the Oval Office and is typically the first and last person the president talks to each day. The chief of staff also acts as a go-between for the president and Capitol Hill. And Priebus, who has close ties with House Speaker Paul Ryan, a fellow Wisconsinite, as well as other GOP leaders, would be a logical choice to help bridge the gap between Team Trump and a wary Republican establishment while helping shepherd the president-elect’s agenda through Congress.
And Priebus, 44, who had a more public role in Trump’s campaign, would be a familiar face in and around Washington.
“Reince, he’s good on TV,” one Trump campaign source told Yahoo News. “Steve, I don’t know if he’s ever done that.”
While the chief of staff isn’t necessarily someone who spends a lot of time doing television hits, the source said this could change with Trump’s “unconventional” approach.
But it was Bannon who crafted the messaging and strategy that propelled Trump’s stunning victory.
“I mean, the guy clearly knows how to get things going, how to get a message going, and how to push that and layer it so those things are going to take root,” the source said, adding: “That’s something people are going to like. I mean, clearly, that’s how he’s built Breitbart and how he acts on the morning calls for the campaign. When we’re talking about messages, he’ll say, ‘Let’s jump on this story. … Let’s start talking about this. It’s going to be huge and we’ve got to go big on it.’”
The 62-year-old Bannon assumed the role as head of Trump’s campaign in August in a shakeup that was criticized by both Democrats and Republicans because of Breitbart’s far-right worldview. He took a leave from his role at the news site to join the campaign.
Hillary Clinton tried to use Bannon’s hiring to tie Trump to the so-called alt-right — a fringe movement marked by white nationalism and racist undertones — that Breitbart News frequently championed. In speeches and on social media, Clinton and her campaign highlighted some of Breitbart’s more controversial headlines.