While the media spent much of the last week predicting whether President-elect Donald Trump would pick an establishment insider or grassroots firebrand for his White House chief of staff, Trump decided to pick both. The top official position went to RNC chairman Reince Priebus, who successfully navigated the Republican party through treacherous waters with Trump as the nominee, and who delivered a surprisingly strong night for the party across the board on Tuesday.
But Trump immediately made it clear that Priebus wouldn't have the job alone; in fact, his statement listed former Breitbart executive and campaign CEO Steve Bannon first, and clearly described a co-equal sharing of power between Bannon and Priebus. According to the statement, "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 move allows the president-elect to keep two of his closest political advisors at hand without subjecting them to tumultuous Senate confirmation hearings that are required of cabinet-level and other high-level appointees. Since the positions serve purely at the pleasure of the president, neither requires Senate confirmation under the constitution or current law.
Because Trump has no governmental executive experience, and because his relationship with the political establishment of his own party was rocky during both the primary and the general, Trump's early personnel moves have been subject to scrutiny that is more intense than usual, which will likely intensify as Trump announces cabinet-level appointees and his nominee to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court.