Reince Priebus: What to Know About Donald Trump's Chief of Staff

Learn more about the RNC chairman who was appointed Trump's chief of staff.

ByABC News
November 13, 2016, 7:06 PM

— -- President-elect Donald Trump announced Sunday afternoon he has appointed Reince Priebus as his chief of staff, the first appointment of his incoming administration.

While Trump has run an outsider campaign against the Washington establishment, promising to “drain the swamp” in D.C., Priebus has been in Washington for almost six years leading the Republican National Committee.

Here’s what to know about Trump’s new chief of staff:

How Do You Pronounce His Name?

His first name rhymes with “pints” and is short for Reinhold. Priebus is pronounced PREE-bus.

Education and Family Life

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 Went to Washington

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 & Friedrich. In 2004 he lost in his only attempt at holding public office, in a Wisconsin state Senate race.

He served as the chairman of the Wisconsin GOP’s 1st Congressional District, at the invitation of fellow Wisconsinite and close friend Paul Ryan after Ryan joined Congress. Priebus’ other jobs with Wisconsin’s Republican Party included state party treasurer and first vice chairman.

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.

RNC Chairman Years

Priebus has been the longest-serving RNC chairman in modern history. He was first elected chairman on Jan. 14, 2011, and inherited an RNC that was $23 million in debt. By the next year, he had dug the RNC out of that deep hole, with $20 million in cash on hand, against $13 million in debt.

Priebus was re-elected in 2013 and 2015.

Tension With Trump

Trump has praised Priebus’ leadership at the RNC, and the two spoke every day when Trump was the GOP nominee. During the primaries, however, there were times when Trump attacked the RNC.

After Texas Sen. Ted Cruz won the Iowa caucuses, Trump tweeted that the RNC was “weak.”

Back in February, Trump said during a press conference, “The bottom line is the RNC is controlled by the establishment, and the RNC is controlled by the special interests and the donors.”

In April, when a contested Republican convention seemed plausible, Trump accused the nomination process of being “stacked against [him] by the establishment.” In an interview with The Hill, Trump called the nomination process a “disgrace for the party” and said Priebus “should be ashamed of himself because he knows what’s going on.”

Priebus fired back on Twitter, “The rules were set last year. Nothing mysterious - nothing new.”

Trump put Priebus in an awkward position at times.

In an Aug. 1 interview with CNN, Preibus addressed Trump’s attacks on the family of a Muslim Army captain killed in Iraq.

“I think our Gold Star families are precious, and they are to be honored and loved and cherished, and I think that it is something that we believe in as a party. So yeah, I think this family should be off limits,” Priebus told the network.

He spoke against Trump again after the 2005 “Access Hollywood” video of Trump making lewd comments about women was released in October.

“No women should ever be described in these terms or talked about in this manner. Ever,” Priebus said in a statement.

Other Things to Know About Him

Priebus 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.

ABC News’ Benjamin Siegel and Alexander Mallin contributed to this report.

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