Alex Isenstadt and Blake Hounshell write at Politico that President Elect Donald J. Trump’s decision on who will be his Chief of Staff—Priebus, Bannon, or other—may define the direction of his administration.
So what do the two most prominent names floated as Donald Trump’s chief of staff say about him?
The Republican establishment’s choice is abundantly clear: Reince Priebus, who withstood a lot of heat and mockery during the election but proved both his loyalty to Trump and his organizational acumen, with the Republican National Committee essentially handling Trump’s ground game.
It was Priebus who Trump recognized during his victory speech early Wednesday morning, hauling the RNC chairman up to the podium and hailing him as an “amazing guy” and a “superstar” comparable to Triple Crown winner Secretariat. And it was Priebus who served as a bridge to mainstream Republicans, vouching for Trump in public and urging him to soften his rough edges in private.
But picking Priebus could provoke a revolt among Trump’s fervent supporters on the right, who thought they were voting for a president who wanted to “drain the swamp” of Washington — not stack his administration with the very people he vowed to overthrow. As Trump’s longtime confidant, Roger Stone, tweeted on Saturday: “The selection of @reince for COS in a @realDonaldTrump WH would cause a rebellion in Trump’s base. #RyansBoy.”
Choosing Stephen Bannon, the blowtorch boss of Breitbart News, would signal something else altogether.
Bannon stayed out of the limelight after being named CEO of Trump’s campaign in August, following the resignation of Paul Manafort. He was a steadying presence for Trump on the campaign trail, helping the GOP nominee sharpen his message.
Under Bannon’s guidance, Breitbart became a ferocious critic of Ryan’s tenure, casting him as a “saboteur” in favor of amnesty for undocumented immigrants and describing him as “universally despised” by conservatives. One article published under Bannon’s co-byline, headlined “Paul Ryan Betrays America: $1.1 Trillion, 2,000-Plus Page Omnibus Bill Funds ‘Fundamental Transformation of America’,” portrays the speaker as a sellout secretly working to boost Obama’s policies — complete with a photograph of a bearded Ryan posing with a grinning president.
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