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President-elect Donald Trump on Sunday named Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus as his chief of staff and appointed campaign CEO Steve Bannon as chief strategist.
“I am thrilled to have my very successful team continue with me in leading our country,” Trump said in a statement.
The president-elect added: “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.”
The move indicated a desire to strike a balance within the White House of figures who have longtime ties to the Republican Party, as well as the outsiders who helped propel Trump to the presidency.
CNN reported that House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner urged the president-elect to pick Priebus, who advised Trump closely following his selection as the Republican presidential nominee.
“It is truly an honor to join President-elect Trump in the White House as his chief of staff,” Priebus said.
Bannon, executive chairman of the alt-right news site Breitbart News, was also a major contender for the job. Observers noted that the Breitbart chief represented the outside pick – he’s been quick to attack Republicans and Democrats alike, scheming with other right-wing media figures about how to oust Ryan for what Bannon perceived as globalist views on trade and immigration.
When Bannon was appointed CEO of Trump’s campaign in August, former Breitbart editor Ben Shapiro characterized him as a “legitimately sinister figure.”
“He is a vindictive, nasty figure, infamous for verbally abusing supposed friends and threatening enemies,” Shapiro wrote in a column at the time, adding, “Bannon knows that in the game of thrones, you win or die. And he certainly doesn’t intend to die. He’ll kill everyone else before he goes.”
The appointments of Bannon and Priebus were the first in a series expected in the upcoming weeks. Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s first campaign manager, and Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s final campaign manager, were also expected to secure posts in the White House.
Trump will take office as the 45th president in January.