The Associated PressWASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. President-elect Donald Trump made his first two key personnel appointments on Sunday, one an overture to Republican circles by naming GOP chief Reince Priebus as his White House chief of staff, the other a shot across the bow of the Washington establishment by tabbing Breitbart news executive Stephen Bannon as chief strategist and senior counselor.
The two men had made up the president-elect’s chief of staff shortlist, and while Priebus received that job, Bannon’s post also is expected to wield significant clout. The media executive with ties to the alt-right and white nationalist movement was given top billing in the press release announcing their appointments.
Trump’s hires were, at first glance, contradictory, though they fit a pattern of the celebrity businessman creating a veritable Rorschach test that allowed his supporters to see what they wanted. Priebus, who lashed the RNC to Trump this summer despite some intraparty objections, is a GOP operative with deep expertise of the Washington establishment that Trump has vowed to shake up. He has close ties to House Speaker Paul Ryan, a fellow Wisconsinite.
Bannon, meanwhile, helped transform the Breitbart news site into the leading mouthpiece of the party’s anti-establishment wing, which helped fuel the businessman’s political rise. Ryan has been one of his most frequent targets.
Denies own nuclear remarks
During a four-hour spree, Trump gloated about establishment Republicans congratulating him and savaged The New York Times for being “dishonest” and “highly inaccurate.”
“The @nytimes states today that DJT believes ‘more countries should acquire nuclear weapons.’ How dishonest are they. I never said this!” Trump tweeted late Sunday morning.
But in a March interview with the Times, Trump was asked whether he would object to Japan acquiring its own nuclear arsenal, which it does not now have. He replied, “Would I rather have North Korea have them with Japan sitting there having them also? You may very well be better off if that’s the case.”