Washington – Donald Trump has named Reince Priebus as his White House chief of staff and Steve Bannon, the head of his campaign and of the far-right website Breitbart, as his “chief strategist and senior counselor”.
Sources close to Trump’s campaign said that Priebus had an on-off relation with Trump while maintaining strong relations with leaders of Republican Party. While choosing Bannon, a fierce critic of the Republican establishment, Trump is trying to win the conservatives.
The statement announcing Trump’s decision named Bannon first, despite the vague title of his role. It said he and Priebus would work as “equal partners”.
“Steve and Reince are highly qualified leaders who worked well together on our campaign and led us to a historic victory,” Trump said. “Now I will have them both with me in the White House as we work to make America great again.”
While Priebus told the press that Trump wants to address fighting illegal immigration, cutting taxes, getting his arms around US foreign policy and America’s place in the world and changing President Barack Obama’s landmark health care law in his first 100 days in office.
“I think we have an opportunity to do all of those things, given the fact that we have the House and the Senate and we have an eager Congress ready to get work done,” Priebus said.
Priebus was born in Kenosha, Wisconsin, to Richard and Dimitra Priebus. He is a self-described lifelong Green Bay Packers fan.
The 44-year-old is married to his high school sweetheart, Sally Priebus. They have two children together, Jack and Grace.
Reince Priebus graduated from the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater in 1994 and received his law degree from the University of Miami School of Law in 1998.
Before he was the national GOP chairman, Priebus worked his way up through the ranks of his home state’s Republican Party.
He was an attorney with Michael Best and Friedrich. In 2004 he lost in his only attempt at holding public office, in a Wisconsin state Senate race.
In 2007, Priebus became the youngest person to be Wisconsin’s GOP chairman. Priebus reshaped the state’s Republican Party, building the foundation for the party apparatus that swept Sen. Ron Johnson into office and helped Gov. Scott Walker win three elections in four years.
People in Priebus’ circles say he has played the piano since he was young and won several piano competitions. A New York Times feature on him reported that he enjoys playing jazz piano while at home unwinding from the day and he keeps a 29-gallon saltwater fish tank in his D.C. office.
Experts say that assigning Priebus to a White House office shows that Trump aims to lessen his previous criticism against Congress and political establishment of the Republican Party.
RNC member Steve King of Wisconsin, a longtime friend of Priebus, said he couldn’t think of anyone better to serve as Trump’s right-hand person.
“Let’s face it. Trump has been elected in a difficult time. People are demonstrating in the streets. Reince is a guy that has spent much of his adult life mediating … and advising and counseling people at all levels. He’s going to be good at this. He’s going to form, I think, the best possible relationship with the Hill,” said King, referring to the close relationship between Priebus and Ryan.
“He kind of mediated that,” said King, who said the choice of Priebus “can only augur well … for the relationship between the Hill and the White House.”
On Sunday, Speaker Ryan tweeted “I’m very proud and excited for my friend @Reince. Congrats!” Ryan and Priebus have known each other since the late 1990s.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos of Rochester said: “I know Reince. He’s a fantastic person. He’s a great tactician and if Donald Trump offered him the job of White House chief of staff, he’d be smart to do so.”