Trump made the announcement Sunday, along with the news that he's naming Steve Bannon his senior counselor and chief strategist. Bannon was CEO of the Trump presidential campaign and chairman of right-wing Breitbart News.
"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. Bannon and Priebus will continue the effective leadership team they formed during the campaign, working as equal partners to transform the federal government, making it much more efficient, effective and productive."
The appointments of "equal partners" suggests a potential power struggle within the White House, Politico reported. Priebus will communicate White House wishes to Republicans in Congress, who he knows well as RNC chairman, and Bannon would keep Trump true to the populist base which elected him. A similar turf battle in the spring, between former Trump campaign managers Paul Manafort and Corey Lewandowski, became a major campaign distraction.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told Trump on Thursday they hoped he would choose Priebus as chief of staff, an unidentified source told CNN. Afterward, Doug Andres, a Ryan spokesman, commented, "The speaker is very happy for his friend and ready to get to work."
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a vocal critic of Trump since the Republican primaries, commented about Trump's choice of Priebus, "This shows me he is serious about governing."
More controversial is Bannon, leader of what is known as the alt-right movement and publisher of a news website known for at-times confrontational headlines and stories. Some Republicans are wary of Bannon and his reputation as a political bomb-thrower with a distrust of the GOP establishment.
"The racist, fascist extreme right is represented footsteps from the Oval Office," GOP strategist and Trump critic John Weaver commented on Bannon's appointment. "Be very vigilant, America."