President-elect Donald Trump is tapping Reince Priebus, the Republican National Committee’s chairman, to join his new administration as chief of staff, the campaign announced Sunday. Steve Bannon, the Trump campaign’s CEO and former head of Breitbart news, will also be on the White House leadership team as the chief strategist.
“I am thrilled to have my very successful team continue with me in leading our country,” Mr. Trump said in a statement. “Steve and Reince are highly qualified leaders who worked well together on our campaign and led us to a historic victory. Now I will have them both with me in the White House as we work to make America great again.”
Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s campaign manager and now a senior adviser to the presidential transition team, hinted at Priebus’ appointment on Saturday.
“I think chairman Priebus has expressed an interest in the position,” she told reporters Saturday at Trump Tower, adding that there were “several people being considered.” One of the other possible candidates, CBS News’ Major Garrett reported last week, included Bannon.
Bannon, who holds anti-establishment views, has drawn repeated heat over the course of the election for his connections to Breitbart News, the conservative website that heralded the rise of alt-right ideologies this campaign cycle.
Mr. Trump picking Priebus, whose tenure as party chair puts him squarely within Washington insider circles, as chief of staff also signals the president-elect’s willingness to make nice with the Republican establishment.
Mr. Trump has heaped praise on the RNC chair for his leadership within the Republican party throughout the contentious primary and general election fight.
Back in July, Mr. Trump took to Twitter to call Priebus “the tough one and the smart one,” especially compared to the Democratic National Committee’s then-chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida.
Even dating back to 2012, Mr. Trump complimented Priebus for “doing a fantastic job,” saying he hoped “he gets the credit he deserves.”
.@reince is doing a fantastic job for the Republican Party--hope he gets the credit he deserves.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 16, 2012
Despite several prominent Republican party members calling for the GOP to denounce Mr. Trump throughout the past year and a half, Priebus has remained fiercely loyal to the nominee throughout the businessman’s presidential campaign.
In an interview with CBS’ “Face the Nation” earlier this year, Priebus even urged any holdouts among Mr. Trump’s former primary challengers to fall in line behind him -- or face the consequences.
“Those people need to get on board,” Priebus said in September. “And if they’re thinking they’re going to run again someday, I think that we’re going to evaluate the process – of the nomination process and I don’t think it’s going to be that easy for them.”
Priebus has weathered some rocky moments in his relationship with the president-elect. Before Mr. Trump became the party’s nominee, he leveled continuous attacks against the RNC and the party’s “rigged” primary system.
But even after getting battered by Mr. Trump’s criticisms, the RNC chair remained resilient, telling “Face the Nation” in April that he didn’t take the attacks to heart.
“I don’t take it personally, because I kind of just rest in the truth,” Priebus said. “It matters when something is right and something is wrong to me.”
CBS News’ Arden Farhi contributed to this report.