By Bonnie K. Goodman
The Trump administration is coming together as President-elect Donald Trump announced his first cabinet picks on Sunday afternoon, Nov. 13, 2016. As speculated Trump named Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus will serve as White House Chief of Staff and Trump for President CEO Stephen K. Bannon will serve as Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor to the President. The Congressional Republicans are lauding Trump’s choice of appointing Priebus.
President-elect Trump issued a statement on his transition website announcing the appointmentsTrump expressed, “I am thrilled to have my very successful team continue with me in leading our country. Steve and Reince are highly qualified leaders who worked well together on our campaign and led us to a historic victory. Now I will have them both with me in the White House as we work to make America great again.”
Bannon also commented in the statement, saying, “I want to thank President-elect Trump for the opportunity to work with Reince in driving the agenda of the Trump Administration. 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.”
While Priebus also expressed gratitude for his appointment saying, “It is truly an honor to join President-elect Trump in the White House as his 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 will be a great President for all Americans.”
The statement explained that Bannon and Priebus are working as equal partners, “Bannon and Priebus will continue the effective leadership team they formed during the campaign, working as equal partners to transform the federal government, making it much more efficient, effective and productive.” They made the arrangement, as they would be working with different “constituencies” in running the White House.
Bannon is a former Navy officer and was Goldman Sachs investment banker, but recently headed conservative publication Breitbart News. He joined the Trump campaign in August and many in the feared that put Trump more to the right alienating himself from mainstream Republican and independent voters. Instead, Bannon helped keep Trump on message and disciplined on the campaign trail. Still, the party establishment did not want Bannon in the role of chief of staff, viewing him as still too controversial.
Both Priebus and Bannon were in the running for the position of chief of staff. Priebus stood by Trump throughout the campaign even through Trump’s scandals and the 2005 lewd tape revelation that caused many Republicans to bolt, distance themselves and rescind their endorsements. By the end, Priebus was on the campaign trail for the then-Republican nominee. During the campaign, Priebus served as a liaison to Trump and the establishment in the party. Priebus is one of the longest running Republican Party Chairman and is popular with all factions of the party.
Priebus was the choice of House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for the role, and they let Trump know it when they met with on Thursday, Nov. 10. Ryan’s spokesman Doug Andres commented after the announcement, indicating “The speaker is very happy for his friend and ready to get to work.” Priebus negotiated Ryan’s original endorsement of the Trump; he has a longtime relationship with Ryan from his time as Chair of the Republican Party of Wisconsin.
Trump is known for rewarding loyalty, and both Priebus and Bannon have been loyal and instrumental to his election. The role of chief of staff sets the tone of the White House and administration and Trump by choosing Priebus shows that will be inclusive to all Republicans and that Trump’s presidency might far more moderate than his campaign rhetoric.