ANALYSIS: Priebus, Bannon Appointments Point Toward Split Approach to Trump Presidency
What the appointments of Priebus and Bannon say about a Trump presidency.
By RICK KLEIN
November 13, 2016, 10:24 PM
• 2 min read
-- Donald Trump once famously declared that there are two Donald Trumps. If that carries through to his presidency, both will be represented at the highest levels of the Trump White House.
Sunday's unusual announcement of Steve Bannon as chief strategist and chief counselor and Reince Priebus as chief of staff suggests that the president-elect is crafting a split approach to governance.
The inside game is set to be run by Priebus, whose savvy as a manager was cemented by the widespread election victories by Republicans last week. The Republican National Committee chairman warred on and off with Trump during the campaign. Yet he maintained strong relationships with GOP insiders and elected officials — and proved his loyalty to Trump in the end.
The outside game appears likely to be the territory of Bannon, whose stewardship of the late-stage campaign found Trump the stride that took him to victory. Bannon brings a more confrontational nature along with solid credentials in right-wing media circles, stemming from his leadership at Breitbart News.
The two men's relationships with a third man — House Speaker Paul Ryan — tells the story of the split approach Trump seems to be crafting. Priebus is close friends and allies with Ryan, a fellow Wisconsinite. Bannon has led efforts to oust Ryan from the speakership.
Since the election, Trump has indicated that he looks forward to working with Ryan, and Ryan has returned the friendly words.
Choosing Priebus as chief of staff is a strong indication that Trump wants to join forces with Capitol Hill, at least initially. During the campaign, Trump singled out the Republican National Committee, which Priebus chaired, for being controlled by the establishment and special interests. Now it seems Trump is ready to put those ties to his own use.
Yet Bannon remains close and arguably in the more influential White House role. He will be a voice in Trump's ear — and surely in the faces of those who oppose his efforts — reminding him of the remarkable power he derived from the grassroots.
The ultimate outsider is adding some important insider credentials. He may be accused by some of going establishment. But Trump's play is more complicated than that.