With the selection of Reince Priebus as White House chief of staff and Breitbart chairman Steve Bannon as his chief strategist and senior counselor, Donald Trump has invited the burgeoning GOP civil war into the West Wing.
With consummate DC-insider Reince Priebus at the helm, Trump is unlikely to achieve any legislative victories as long as Stephen Bannon–a man that has mercilessly targeted Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, John McCain, and Ben Sasse and “wants to destroy the state“–is involved. Trump’s call for “GOP unity” has already been portrayed as a circular firing squad between Bannon, Priebus, and congressional leadership.
Yesterday, Bannon’s Breitbart printed an article amplifying radio host Michael Savage’s attacks on Priebus as “the enemy within.” With Breitbart as his mouthpiece, Bannon is waging war on Priebus before the White House drapes are even measured.
This should come as no surprise given Breitbart’s longstanding and aggressive campaign against “Republican insiders.” House Speaker Paul Ryan–ushered to national prominence by Priebus–has been a frequent target of Bannon, most recently during his primary race against Trump-supporter Paul Nehlen. Breitbart labeled Ryan as “desperate,” and “failing” despite the fact that Ryan–though described as “running scared” by Bannon and company–cruised to an easy 68 point electoral victory over Nehlen.
Republican congressional leaders have praised Trump’s selection of Priebus while maintaining a uniform silence to Bannon’s appointment. But yesterday’s Breitbart piece savaging Priebus demonstrates that the detente is one-sided at best. Any dull hope that a Trump presidency could work with congressional leaders to address substantive issues should be extinguished with the selection of the bomb-hurling Bannon as senior counselor.