Donald Trump Picks Reince Priebus as Chief of Staff

President-elect Donald J. Trump on Sunday chose Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee and a loyal campaign adviser, to be his White House chief of staff, turning to a Washington insider whose friendship with the House speaker, Paul D. Ryan, could help secure early legislative victories.

In selecting Mr. Priebus, the president-elect passed over Stephen K. Bannon, the right-wing media mogul who oversaw his presidential campaign. If Mr. Trump had appointed Mr. Bannon, a fierce critic of the Republican establishment, it would have demonstrated a continued disdain for a party that Mr. Trump fought throughout his campaign.

Mr. Trump’s choice is certain to anger some of his most conservative supporters, many of whom expect him to battle the Washington establishment over issues like taxes, immigration, trade, health care and the environment. They view Mr. Priebus as a deal maker who will be too eager to push the new president toward compromise.

Mr. Priebus is expected to have multiple deputies, including Katie Walsh, the chief of staff of the Republican National Committee, who is close to Mr. Priebus and helped ensure a tight working relationship between the party’s operational infrastructure and Mr. Trump’s campaign.

Other advisers in Mr. Trump’s inner circle will also have his ear, including Jared Kushner, his son-in-law, who is likely to wield great influence over the new president regardless of whether he holds a formal title. Mr. Kushner, who has no experience in politics or government, is often the last person Mr. Trump turns to for counsel.

Mr. Bannon — the longtime chairman of Breitbart News, a site distinguished by its nationalist, conspiracy-laden coverage — was named chief strategist and senior counselor, and a news release from Mr. Trump’s transition team said that Mr. Priebus and Mr. Bannon would work as “equal partners.” Mr. Bannon is also likely to serve as a conduit to the populist right and conservative media outlets.

A onetime Goldman Sachs banker, Mr. Bannon has transformed himself into a media figure who favors a scorched-earth style of politics and views the corporate elite and the government establishment with disdain.

Breitbart News regularly traffics in racially charged accusations about President Obama, provocative comparisons between abortion providers and Holocaust killers, and contempt for feminism. Many of its articles tap into a fierce populism not unlike the voter sentiment that helped fuel Mr. Trump’s victory.

Despite his image as a bomb-thrower, Mr. Bannon is also savvy at cutting deals to achieve his goals.

But as chief of staff, Mr. Priebus will be the one who has several hundred White House staff members reporting to him. He will be the primary gatekeeper for Mr. Trump and the person most responsible for steering the president’s agenda through Congress. That role will be especially critical for Mr. Trump, who has never served in government and has few connections to important political figures.

At times, Mr. Priebus, whose first name rhymes with “pints,” struggled to defend Mr. Trump’s antics, but he showed his loyalty by supplementing the campaign’s resources and by urging Republicans to fall in line behind the candidate in spite of their reservations.

When Mr. Trump emerged onstage to give his victory speech early Wednesday, Mr. Trump made his appreciation clear, dismissing rumors of tension with Mr. Priebus and singing his praises.

“I never had a bad second with him,” Mr. Trump said. “He’s an unbelievable star.”

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(Source:www.nytimes.com)
Photo:AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

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