Monday, November 14, 2016

Trump's picks for Chief of Staff and Rasputin

Trump has picked Reince Priebus as Chief of Staff and Stephen Bannon (channeling Rasputin) as the power behind the throne, reports the NY Times: Donald Trump Picks Reince Priebus as Chief of Staff and Stephen Bannon as Strategist.

President-elect Donald J. Trump on Sunday chose Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee and a loyal campaign adviser, to be his White House chief of staff, turning to a Washington insider whose friendship with the House speaker, Paul D. Ryan, could help secure early legislative victories.

In selecting Mr. Priebus, Mr. Trump passed over Stephen K. Bannon, a right-wing media provocateur. But the president-elect named Mr. Bannon his senior counselor and chief West Wing strategist, signaling an embrace of the fringe ideology long advanced by Mr. Bannon and of a continuing disdain for the Republican establishment.

The dual appointments — with Mr. Bannon given top billing in the official announcement — instantly created rival centers of power in the Trump White House.

Rivals for power? Jeez. Who would have thought it? But let’s stop that line of thinking. It may be that Trump will take his policies and strategies from Bannon and Priebus, with his insider skills, will carry them out.

In a statement Sunday afternoon, the transition team emphasized that the two men would work “as equal partners to transform the federal government.”

The arrangement appeared aimed at ensuring that both men would be required to sign off on many decisions jointly. And Mr. Bannon was assured that he reports directly to Mr. Trump, not to Mr. Priebus.

The simultaneous announcement and competing lines of authority are consistent with Mr. Trump’s management style in his businesses and in his campaign: creating rival power structures beneath him and encouraging them to battle it out.

But while Mr. Trump apparently feels comfortable with Mr. Priebus, the people with knowledge of his weekend decision said Mr. Bannon was still the adviser who was better able to talk forcefully to the president-elect during difficult moments.

The transition team appeared eager to appease concerns among Mr. Trump’s most fervent supporters that choosing Mr. Priebus meant the president-elect had already caved to the Washington “swamp” he had promised to drain. The team also wanted to mollify Mr. Bannon, and to that end, the official statement mentioned Mr. Bannon first.

“We had a very successful partnership on the campaign, one that led to victory,” Mr. Bannon said in the statement. “We will have that same partnership in working to help President-elect Trump achieve his agenda.”

Mr. Priebus said he looked forward to working with Mr. Bannon and Mr. Trump “to create an economy that works for everyone, secure our borders, repeal and replace Obamacare and destroy radical Islamic terrorism.”

Already Priebus has announced the follow-through on some of Trump’s campaign themes. This morning, on Good Morning America, George Stephanopoulos fed Priebus a softball asking about the top three priorities for the first 100 days. Priebus named foreign policy, immigration, and Obamacare. Then Priebus added a fourth: “tax reform”.

Read more about the nuts and bolts of White House staffing in the Times’ report.

As they say: buckle up.

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