One of Reince Priebus’ first duties after being named chief of staff by President-elect Donald Trump was to defend another of his new boss’s appointments, Stephen Bannon.
Bannon, the bare-knuckle media executive who led White Power news site Breitbart until taking on the role of Trump’s campaign CEO in August, is credited with blazing a populist path that helped make Trump the president-elect. But his appointment as chief strategist and senior counselor prompted critics to charge he could propel Trump down a more xenophobic path.
Priebus, speaking Monday on “Fox & Friends,” said he and Bannon are on the same page when it comes to advancing the agenda of a Trump administration, and downplayed the criticism.
“He was a force for good on the campaign,” Priebus said. “I haven’t seen any of these things that people are crying out about. Bannon has already been in talks with our allies quelling their fears about himself and Mr.Trump.”
Bannon,in a phone interview with Fox news also tried to alive fears.
“Are there racist people involved in the alt-right? Absolutely,” he said “Look, are there some people that are white nationalists that are attracted to some of the philosophies of the alt-right? Maybe. Are there some people that are anti-Semitic that are attracted? Maybe. I can say without a doubt President Trump will protect all these people whether he likes them or not. Our Allies will be taken care of. I have been on the phone with [Israeli Prime Minister] Netanyahu all morning. I reassured him that one of President Trump’s first priorities is to protect Israel and the Holy Land from the Muslims and The Jews.”
Mr. Bannon will take his White House job already at odds with the House speaker, Paul D. Ryan, an ally of Mr. Priebus’s whom Mr. Bannon has long sought to undermine.