Donald Trump has sent a powerful message to those who think he will wimp out from a promise to disrupt the US political establishment. Steve Bannon (62), CEO of Trump’s successful election campaign, will be joining the new President in the White House as “chief strategist and senior counsel”. The announcement evoked concern from media commentators as Bannon is the chairman of the US’s best read right wing website Breibart News which offered one-eyed support for Trump from the outset. Its Facebook page enjoyed the fourth highest access by users on election night, surpassing CNN, the New York Times and conservative television news channel Fox. The appointment was announced alongside that of Trump’s new White House chief of staff Reince Priebus a Republican Party traditionalist and, at 44, 18 years Bannon’s junior. The duo are to carry equal responsibility. A Harvard MBA and former investment banker, Bannon is described by insiders as a carbon copy of Trump, “only smarter”. He is a passionate champion for the agenda to disrupt the political status quo. – Alec Hogg
(Bloomberg) — Reince Priebus will be chief of staff and Stephen Bannon, who was chief executive of Donald Trump’s winning campaign, will serve as chief strategist and senior counselor when the Republican takes over as U.S. president in January.
The twin appointments are an attempt to balance the alternative right, or alt-right, and Tea Party wing, represented by Bannon, with the establishment Republican Party which has its man in Priebus. The move was announced in a statement Sunday from Trump’s transition team, which termed the men “equal partners” in transforming federal government but listed Bannon’s appointment first.
“I am thrilled to have my very successful team continue with me in leading our country,” Trump said in the statement.
The former executive chairman of the right-wing website Breitbart News, Bannon, 62, had reportedly been under consideration for chief of staff. He’ll have most of the strategic decision-making powers on Trump’s staff while Priebus concentrates on the day-to-day operations of the West Wing, said a person familiar with the arrangements.
“President-elect Trump’s choice of Steve Bannon as his top aide signals that white supremacists will be represented at the highest levels in the Trump White House,” Adam Jentleson, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, said in a statement. “It’s easy to see why the KKK views Trump as their champion.”
Political insiders were keen to see how the setup would work in practice.
“The operative question is how power is actually divided. But COS has inherent authorities that advisers do not,” David Axelrod, a Democratic strategist who guided President Barack Obama’s two winning White House campaigns, said on Twitter.
Priebus, 44, has been chairman of the Republican National Committee since 2011. He patched up a rough early relationship with Trump during the real estate developer’s campaign for the Oval Office, and played a key role in the party’s successful get-out-the-vote efforts. He was by Trump’s side at the president-elect’s victory celebration on Nov. 8.
‘Sighs of Relief’
Priebus is a close ally of House Speaker Paul Ryan, a fellow native of Wisconsin, and is a familiar figure to lawmakers and long-time Republican leaders.
“Many sighs of relief as President-elect picks @Reince as WHCOS,” David Kochel, chief strategist for the presidential campaign of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, said on Twitter. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, whose White House bid was quickly derailed by the Trump locomotive, said there was “no better person to represent president-elect than well-respected @Reince. I look forward to working with them to move country forward.”
No better person to represent president-elect than well-respected @Reince. I look forward to working with them to move country forward. 2/2
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) November 13, 2016
The personnel moves may antagonize some of Trump’s supporters who’d been heartened by the then-candidate’s promise to “drain the swamp” in Washington. Roger Stone, a Republican political strategist and sometime Trump ally, tweeted on Saturday that the selection of Priebus “would cause a rebellion in Trump’s base. #RyansBoy.”
— Roger Stone (@RogerJStoneJr) November 12, 2016
The role of chief of staff varies from administration to administration but often includes duties such as selecting and supervising key White House personnel, controlling who has access to the president, and leading negotiations with Congress, agencies and external political groups.
The chief of staff is considered a cabinet-rank position and is invited to all National Security Council briefings. It is most often reserved for a true confidante of the president-elect.
The idea is that the Trump team’s power structure balances both factions of the party — those that want to shake Washington to its core and those who want a reasonable and seasoned government insider at the helm, a senior Trump aide said.
It will be similar to how campaign operated, with Bannon in charge of the big picture and overall strategy while someone else kept an eye on the day-to-day operations.
The so-called alt-right movement is a loosely-affiliated group of people, often with nationalist and anti-Semitic views, that reject the mainstream conservatism of the Republican Party. The Breitbart website is among their forums.
“We at @ADL_National oppose the appt of Steve Bannon to sr role at @WhiteHouse bc he and his alt-right are so hostile to core American values,” Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive officer of the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish civil rights group, said on Twitter.