Members of the New York police departments counter-terrorism unit guard Trump Tower on Monday. Photograph: Mark Lennihan/AP
Neil Sroka, communications director of the liberal group Democracy for America, said that giving Bannon a senior role in his White House should disabuse everyone of the notion that Donald Trump is going to govern any differently than the bigoted, hate-fueled, and divisive campaign he ran for president.
Bannon is a disgusting, white ethno-nationalist propagandist and the mere idea that hell be whispering in the ear of someone who will call himself our commander-in-chief is a stain on the presidency.
Neither Priebus nor Bannon has any policy experience. Although Priebus was given the senior job as a reassurance to mainstream Republicans, Bannons post is expected to wield significant influence, similar to that of Karl Rove during George W Bushs administration.
In announcing the appointments, Trump mentioned Bannon first: Steve and Reince are highly qualified leaders who worked well together on our campaign and led us to a historic victory, he said, describing them as equal partners.
Trumps campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, told reporters at Trump Tower in New York on Monday: Ive worked closely with both of them. I think its a great team. And Ill continue to work closely with both of them in some capacity to be decided. They complement each other. They both have the most important thing: the ear of the boss.
Asked about Bannons record at Breitbart, Conway replued: I worked very closely with Steve Bannon. Hes been the general of this campaign. And frankly, people should look at the full rsum. He has got a Harvard business degree. Hes a naval officer. He has success in entertainment. I dont know if youre aware of that. And he certainly was a Goldman Sachs managing partner. Brilliant tactician.
On Capitol Hill, House majority leader Kevin McCarthy defended the appointment of Bannon, saying the president-elect always gets to pick his team. The California Republican said: I do not know Steve Bannon … Ive always believed in giving someone a chance. I dont like to prejudge people.
He asked reporters if they should be held responsible for what was published by their outlets: Are we putting everything that was on Breitbart under him?
Priebus himself also defended the anti-establishment media executive, saying the two made an effective duo as they helped Trump pull off last weeks stunning victory over Clinton. Together, weve been able to manage a lot of the decision making in regard to the campaign, Priebus told NBCs Today. Its worked very, very well.
He sought to distance Bannon from the incendiary headlines on his website, saying they were written by others.
Priebus, chair of the Republican National Committee, threw in his lot with Trump, even as other Republicans turned against him, a gamble that has paid off. He is part of the Washington establishment that Trump pledged to challenge, which could lead to tensions with Bannon.
Breitbart News was supportive of Trump and a sworn foe of House speaker Paul Ryan, who has close ties to Priebus, also from Wisconsin. Trump has long encouraged internal rivalries in business and copied the strategy in his a presidential campaign that used three different managers, sowing the seeds of factional struggles.