US President-elect Donald Trump has awarded key roles in his incoming team to a top Republican party official and a conservative media chief. Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC), will be his chief of staff. In this role, he will set the tone for the new White House and act as a conduit to Congress and the government.
Stephen Bannon, from the right-wing Breitbart News Network, will serve as Mr Trump’s chief strategist. Mr Bannon stepped aside temporarily as Breitbart’s executive chairman to act as Mr Trump’s campaign chief.
The Republican candidate defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton in Tuesday’s presidential vote, in a result which shocked many, who had expected Mrs Clinton to win following favourable opinion polls.
Mr Trump is due to take over at the White House on 20 January, when Barack Obama steps down after two terms in office.
On Sunday night the president-elect spoke to Chinese President Xi Jinping. The two agreed to meet at “an early date”, Chinese state media said.
Representatives for Mr Trump, who has repeatedly accused China of unfair trade practices, said the two leaders established “a clear sense of mutual respect”.
Meanwhile in the president-elect’s first interview, with US broadcaster CBS, Mr Trump said:
- He would deport or jail up to three million illegal migrants with criminal links.
- Future Supreme Court nominees would be “pro-life” and defend the constitutional right to bear arms.
- He will not seek to overturn the legalisation of same-sex marriage.
- He will forgo the president’s $400,000 salary, taking $1 a year instead.
“I am thrilled to have my very successful team continue with me in leading our country,” Mr Trump said in a statement released by his campaign.
“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.”
Mr Priebus, 44, acted as a bridge between Mr Trump and the Republican party establishment during the campaign. He is close to House Speaker Paul Ryan, a fellow Wisconsinite, who could be instrumental in steering the new administration’s legislative agenda.
The man who built his campaign railing against The Establishment has chosen the chair of the Republican National Committee to be his chief of staff. It doesn’t get much more establishment than Reince Preibus.
If there are clues to be gleaned from Mr Trump’s first personnel decisions as president, it’s that he’s opting for a veteran party hand to manage the White House – although he’s keeping an outsider devil on his shoulder in senior adviser Stephen Bannon, former head of the bomb-throwing Breitbart News.
Bringing Mr Preibus and Mr Bannon under the same roof should create some interesting tension. If correctly harnessed, the energy could provide drive to the nascent Trump administration. If things go wrong, it could tear the place apart.
Regardless of how it works out, Mr Preibus’s elevation to this powerful position represents the culmination of a winning gamble for the Wisconsinite. While many in his party were urging him to abandon Mr Trump whenever his candidacy appeared on the verge of foundering, he committed – quietly, behind the scenes – to righting the ship.
It often didn’t seem possible, but he succeeded – and now he has a White House office to show for it. Elected chairman of the RNC in 2011, Mr Priebus has acted as the party’s spokesman and chief fundraiser, helping candidates running for re-election.
He said it was “truly an honour” to join Mr Trump in the White House as chief of staff.
“I am very grateful to the president-elect for this opportunity to serve him and this nation as we work to create an economy that works for everyone, secure our borders, repeal and replace Obamacare and destroy radical Islamic terrorism,” he added.
Correspondents say one of the big challenges of the new administration will be reconciling Mr Trump with the mainstream Republican party, where sharp divisions emerged during the primaries. Both houses of Congress are under Republican control.
During the election race, Mr Bannon, 62, saw it as his aim to “bolster the business-like approach of Mr Trump’s campaign”.
A former naval officer, investment banker and Hollywood producer, Mr Bannon took over at Breitbart in 2012, when he promised to make it the “Huffington Post of the right”.
Breitbart is linked to the alternative right movement – or alt-right – which tends to reject both left-wing ideology and mainstream conservatism.
The movement often emphasises free speech and the right to offend. Opponents call it racist and misogynistic.
“I want to thank President-elect Trump for the opportunity to work with Reince in driving the agenda of the Trump administration,” Mr Bannon said on Sunday.
“We had a very successful partnership on the campaign, one that led to victory. We will have that same partnership in working to help President-elect Trump achieve his agenda.”