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Trump names White House chief of staff, chief strategist

Neither Priebus nor Bannon bring policy experience to their new White House roles

Published: Updated:

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 Stephan 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 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 RNC 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.

In this Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016, file photo, President-elect Donald Trump, center, shakes hands with Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus during an election night rally in New York. Trump on Sunday named Priebus as his White House chief of staff. (AP)
In this Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016, file photo, President-elect Donald Trump, center, shakes hands with Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus during an election night rally in New York. Trump on Sunday named Priebus as his White House chief of staff. (AP)

Bannon, meanwhile, helped transform the Breitbart news site into the leading mouthpiece of the party’s anti-establishment wing, which helped fuel the businessman’s political rise. Ryan has been one of his most frequent targets.

“Steve and Reince are highly qualified leaders who worked well together on our campaign and led us to a historic victory,” Trump said. “Now I will have them both with me in the White House as we work to make America great again.”

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