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President-elect Donald Trump named his top two advisers on Sunday, signaling an aggressive agenda and setting up what could be a battle within the White House between the populist, outsider forces that propelled his winning campaign and the party establishment that dominates Washington.
Trump named Reince Priebus, the head of the Republican National Committee, as his chief of staff. In appointing Priebus, 44, Trump has brought into his White House a Washington insider who is viewed as broadly acceptable by vast swaths of the party, and he signaled a willingness to work within the establishment he assailed on the campaign trail.
But the president-elect sent an opposing signal by tapping Stephen K. Bannon, his combative campaign chief and former head of the incendiary Breitbart News, as his chief strategist and senior counselor. Bannon, 62, has openly attacked congressional leadership, taking particular aim at House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) — who recommended Priebus for his new job.
. . . Trump’s top two advisers could help him achieve different objectives. Priebus could help Trump notch early legislative victories in a Republican-led Congress and ingratiate himself with the insiders he claims to loathe but who dominate his transition team. A longtime lawyer and Wisconsin political operative, Priebus will work to smooth over residual friction from a campaign during which a number of Republicans refused to endorse Trump, reversed their endorsements or stepped away from him after a 2005 tape surfaced in which Trump is heard saying that he could force himself on women because he was a “star.”
Bannon will be the other voice on Trump’s shoulder: He helped shape Trump’s message on the campaign trail and relishes combativeness. The former Navy officer and investment banker has said the campaign was the American version of worldwide populist movements such as the British vote to sever ties with the European Union.