Donald Trump has officially named Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus as his Chief of Staff, according to the President-elect’s transition team.
BREAKING: Trump taps RNC's Reince Priebus as White House chief of staff; Stephen Bannon as senior counselor.
— The Associated Press (@AP) November 13, 2016
Priebus was selected over Trump’s campaign director, Steve Bannon, who will serve as a senior adviser and administration strategist instead of in the chief legislative position. The Trump campaign says that Bannon and Priebus will work as “co-equal partners” helping to direct the new President’s crucial first 100 days.
The move appears to demonstrate an overture towards more “establishment” Republicans. It also seems to be an effort by Trump to court GOP leadership in the House and Senate, who would prefer an experienced legislator over a media-focused newcomer as their prime contact within the White House.
Priebus will now be charged with smoothing over some of those fractured relationships, and preventing large-scale revenge operations by Trump insiders who were quietly telling media late this week that they intended to “punish” Republicans who didn’t support Trump while he was the party’s nominee.
That should provide some relief to House Speaker Paul Ryan, who reportedly has been working on a “truce” with senior officials inside Trump’s operation, including Vice President-elect Mike Pence. Ryan had been a top “friendly-fire” target of the Trump campaign, and some high-profile Trump supporters said they were hoping the Wisconsin Rep would be the first victim of the President-elect’s house-cleaning.
The decision to appoint Priebus to Chief of Staff also demonstrates a legislative seriousness on the part of Trump’s transition team. The position is typically reserved for a former legislator, because that person has to represent the White House’s legislative interests to Congress, and works to lobby for the president’s position on key bills.
Priebus is a seasoned political operative who knows most GOP legislators well, having partnered with many of their campaigns at the RNC.
It also may mark an effort at more widespread unity. After Trump secured the victory, Priebus stepped in to help direct his transition to President-elect, even helping write his acceptance speech.
“Once it was determined he was going to be the winner, he started looking at and thinking about that speech,” Priebus told Fox News from Trump’s victory party Tuesday night. “He said, ‘We’re going to calm the waters. We’re going to bring people together. We’re not going to brag.”