Priebus ap­pointed White House chief of staff

Trump also names Ban­non, a Bre­it­bart news ex­ec­u­tive, to role of chief strate­gist

Baltimore Sun - - TRUMP TRANSITION - By Jonathan Lemire and Lau­rie Kellman

WASH­ING­TON — Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump made his first two key per­son­nel ap­point­ments on Sun­day, one an over­ture to Repub­li­can cir­cles by nam­ing GOP chief Reince Priebus as his White House chief of staff, the other a shot across the bow of the Wash­ing­ton es­tab­lish­ment by tab­bing Bre­it­bart news ex­ec­u­tive Stephen Ban­non as chief strate­gist and se­nior coun­selor.

The two men had made up the pres­i­dent-elect’s chief of staff short­list, and while Priebus re­ceived that job, Ban­non’s post also is ex­pected to wield sig­nif­i­cant clout. The me­dia ex­ec­u­tive with Ban­non ties to the alt-right and white na­tion­al­ist move­ment was given top billing in the press re­lease an­nounc­ing their ap­point­ments.

Trump’s hires were, at first glance, con­tra­dic­tory, though they fit a pat­tern of the celebrity busi­ness­man cre­at­ing a ver­i­ta­ble Rorschach test that al­lowed his sup­port­ers to see what they wanted. Priebus, who lashed the Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee to Trump this sum­mer de­spite some in­tra­party ob­jec­tions, is a GOP op­er­a­tive with deep ex­per­tise of the Wash­ing­ton es­tab­lish­ment that Trump has vowed to shake up. He has close ties to House Speaker Paul Ryan, a fel­low Wis­con­si­nite.

“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,” Priebus said in the state­ment an­nounc­ing his ap­point­ment.

Ban­non, mean­while, helped trans­form the Bre­it­bart news site into the lead­ing mouth­piece of the party’s anti-es­tab­lish­ment wing.

“Steve and Reince are highly qual­i­fied lead­ers who worked well to­gether on our cam­paign and led us to a his­toric vic­tory,” Trump said.

Nei­ther Priebus nor Ban­non bring pol­icy ex­pe­ri­ence to their new White House roles. Chiefs of staff in par­tic­u­lar play a sig­nif­i­cant role in pol­icy mak­ing, serv­ing as a li­ai­son to Cabi­net agen­cies and de­cid­ing what in­for­ma­tion makes it to the pres­i­dent’s desk. They’re of­ten one of the last peo­ple in the room with the pres­i­dent as ma­jor de­ci­sions are made.

Trump’s adult chil­dren, who serve as in­flu­en­tial ad­vis­ers to the pres­i­dent-elect, are said to have been con­cerned about hav­ing a con­tro­ver­sial fig­ure in the chief of staff role and backed Priebus for the job.

In an­nounc­ing the ap­point­ments, Trump said Priebus and Ban­non would work as “equal part­ners” — ef­fec­tively cre­at­ing two power cen­ters in the West Wing.

Trump has long en­cour­aged ri­val­ries, both in busi­ness and in his pres­i­den­tial cam­paign. He cy­cled through three cam­paign man­agers dur­ing his White House run, cre­at­ing a web of com­pet­ing al­liances among staffers.

Priebus is a tra­di­tional choice, one meant as an olive branch to the Repub­li­cans who con­trol both houses of Congress as Trump looks to pass his leg­isla­tive agenda.

Ryan tweeted, “I’m very proud and ex­cited for my friend (at)Reince. Con­grats!” Ryan made no men­tion of Ban­non in that tweet, but ear­lier told CNN that he didn’t know Ban­non but “I trust Don­ald’s judg­ment.”

The Ban­non pick, how­ever, is any­thing but safe.

Un­der Ban­non’s ten­ure, Bri­et­bart pushed a na­tion­al­ist agenda and be­came one of the lead­ing out­lets of the so-called alt-right — a move­ment of­ten as­so­ci­ated with white su­prem­a­cist ideas that op­pose mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism and de­fend “Western val­ues.”

John Weaver, a Repub­li­can strate­gist who worked for Ohio Gov. John Ka­sich’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, tweeted: “The racist, fas­cist ex­treme right is rep­re­sented foot­steps from the Oval Of­fice. Be very vig­i­lant, Amer­ica.”

Ban­non, who be­came cam­paign CEO in Au­gust, pushed Trump to adopt more pop­ulist rhetoric and paint ri­val Hil­lary Clin­ton as part of a global con­spir­acy made up of the po­lit­i­cal, fi­nan­cial and me­dia elite, bankers bent on op­press­ing the coun­try’s work­ing peo­ple — a mes­sage that car­ried Trump to the White House but to some, car­ried anti-Semitic un­der­tones.

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