Trump makes first picks for top team

Malta Independent - - WORLD -

US Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump has awarded key roles in his in­com­ing team to a top Repub­li­can party of­fi­cial and a right-wing me­dia chief.

Reince Priebus, chair­man of the Repub­li­can National Com­mit­tee, will be his chief of staff.

In this role, he will set the tone for the new White House and act as a con­duit to Congress and the gov­ern­ment.

Stephen Ban­non, from the Bre­it­bart News Net­work, will serve as Mr Trump’s chief strate­gist.

Mr Ban­non stepped aside as ex­ec­u­tive chair­man of Bre­it­bart - a com­bat­ive con­ser­va­tive site with an anti-es­tab­lish­ment agenda that crit­ics ac­cuse of xeno­pho­bia and misog­yny - to act as Mr Trump’s cam­paign chief.

Mean­while in the pres­i­den­t­elect’s first in­ter­view, with US broad­caster CBS, Mr Trump said: • He would de­port or jail up to three mil­lion il­le­gal mi­grants with crim­i­nal links • Fu­ture Supreme Court nom­i­nees would be “pro-life” mean­ing they op­pose abortion - and de­fend the con­sti­tu­tional right to bear arms • He will not seek to over­turn the le­gal­i­sa­tion of same-sex marriage • He will forgo the pres­i­dent’s $400,000 salary, tak­ing $1 a year in­stead In a state­ment re­leased by his cam­paign, Mr Trump de­scribed Mr Priebus and Mr Ban­non as “highly qual­i­fied lead­ers who worked well to­gether on our cam­paign and led us to a his­toric vic­tory”.

Mr Priebus, 44, acted as a bridge be­tween Mr Trump and the Repub­li­can party es­tab­lish­ment dur­ing the cam­paign.

He is close to House Speaker Paul Ryan, a fel­low Wis­con­si­nite, who could be in­stru­men­tal in steer­ing the new ad­min­is­tra­tion’s leg­isla­tive agenda.

Dur­ing the elec­tion race, Mr Ban­non, 62, saw it as his aim to “bol­ster the busi­ness-like ap­proach of Mr Trump’s cam­paign”. A former naval of­fi­cer, in­vest­ment banker and Hol­ly­wood pro­ducer, Mr Ban­non took over at Bre­it­bart in 2012, when he promised to make it the “Huff­in­g­ton Post of the right”.

Bre­it­bart is linked to the al­ter­na­tive right move­ment - or al­tright - which tends to re­ject both left-wing ide­ol­ogy and main­stream con­ser­vatism.

The move­ment of­ten em­pha­sises free speech and the right to of­fend. Op­po­nents call it racist, anti-Semitic and sex­ist.

“I want to thank Pres­i­dent-elect Trump for the op­por­tu­nity to work with Reince in driv­ing the agenda of the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion,” Mr Ban­non said on Sun­day.

“We had a very suc­cess­ful part­ner­ship on the cam­paign, one that led to vic­tory. We will have that same part­ner­ship in work­ing to help Pres­i­dent-elect Trump achieve his agenda.”

Demo­crat Con­gress­man Adam Schiff called Mr Ban­non’s ap­point­ment “un­sur­pris­ing but alarm­ing”. “His alt-right, anti-Semitic & misog­y­nis­tic views don’t be­long in WH,” he tweeted.

Elected chair­man of the RNC in 2011, Mr Priebus has acted as the party’s spokesman and chief fundraiser. He said it was “truly an hon­our” to join Mr Trump in the White House as chief of staff.

“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,” he added.

Cor­re­spon­dents say one of the big chal­lenges of the new ad­min­is­tra­tion will be rec­on­cil­ing Mr Trump with the main­stream Repub­li­can party, where sharp divi­sions emerged dur­ing the pri­maries.

Both houses of Congress are un­der Repub­li­can con­trol.

Don­ald Trump will take over at the White House on 20 Jan­uary, when Barack Obama steps down after two terms in of­fice. He de­feated Hil­lary Clin­ton in last week’s pres­i­den­tial vote.

On Sun­day night Mr Trump spoke to Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping. The two agreed to meet at “an early date”, Chi­nese state me­dia said.

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