NEW YORK (WTXF/AP) - Donald Trump named Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus his White House chief of staff, elevating one of his loyal GOP advisers with a deep expertise of the Washington establishment Trump has vowed to shake up.
Priebus, a close ally of House Speaker Paul Ryan, called the appointment "an honor" and predicted the billionaire "will be a great president for all Americans."
Trump also named Stephen Bannon, his campaign CEO and executive on leave from conservative website Breitbart, to be the president-elect's chief strategist and senior counsel.
With Vice President-elect Mike Pence as transition chief, the trio was expected to organize the incoming administration, according to this statement from the Trump camp:
"President-elect Donald J. Trump today announced that Trump for President CEO Stephen K. Bannon will serve as Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor to the President, and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus will serve as White House Chief of Staff.
"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. Bannon and Priebus will also work together with Vice President-elect Mike Pence to help lead the transition process in the run-up to Inauguration Day.
“I am thrilled to have my very successful team continue with me in leading our country,” said President-elect Trump. “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.”
“I want to thank President-elect Trump for the opportunity to work with Reince in driving the agenda of the Trump Administration,” noted Bannon. “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.”
“It is truly an honor to join President-elect Trump in the White House as his Chief of Staff,” added Priebus. “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 will be a great President for all Americans.”
There was much to steady. The appointments came after a day in which Trump's tough-talking plan to rein in illegal immigration showed signs Sunday of cracking, with the president-elect backing off his vow to build a solid wall along the southern U.S. border and Ryan rejecting any "deportation force" targeting people living in the country illegally.
After Trump told CBS' "60 Minutes" that his border wall might look more like a fence in spots, the combative billionaire took to Twitter to settle some scores.
During a four-hour spree, Trump savaged the New York Times and gloated about the GOP stalwarts lining up to congratulate him, bragging that staunch critics and GOP rivals John Kasich, Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush had sent attaboys. Former presidents George W. and George H.W. Bush also had sent their "best wishes on the win. Very nice!" The New York Times, Trump wrote to his 14 million followers, is "dishonest" and "highly inaccurate."
As Trump revenge-tweeted, threats flew between power brokers, and protests across the country continued.
The president-elect retreated from the campaign promise that had inspired his supporters chant "Build the wall!" at Trump's massive campaign rallies.
Would he accept a fence in some spots on the border? In an interview to be aired Sunday, Trump told "60 Minutes": "For certain areas, I would, but certain areas, a wall is more appropriate. There could be some fencing."
Excerpts of the interview were released in advance.
Trump also had vowed to immediately deport all 11 million people in the country illegally. But in the interview, he said he's focusing first on ousting or incarcerating 2 million to 3 million "that are criminals and have criminal records, gang members, drug dealers." Trump emphasized that securing the border is his very first immigration priority.
On that, Ryan agreed. But on CNN's "State of the Union," Ryan rejected the kind of "mass deportations" Trump had championed during the campaign.
"We are not planning on erecting a deportation force," he said.
More tension emerged Sunday when Trump's campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, said Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid should be careful in a "legal sense" about characterizing Trump as a sexual predator. When asked whether Trump was threatening to sue Reid, Conway said no.
But Adam Jentleson, Reid's deputy chief of staff, said Trump is "hiding behind his Twitter account and sending his staff on TV to threaten his critics."
Meanwhile, another Trump aide -- Rudy Giuliani -- suggested that the president-elect should have a "blind trust" to run his global empire to avoid potential conflicts of interest. But he said three of Trump's adult children should probably have a hand in that trust.
"There's no perfect way to do this," he told CNN's "State of the Union." "You have to have some confidence in the integrity of the president.
Also on Sunday, Republicans backed off decades of investigating Clinton. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said on "Fox News Sunday" that GOP-led congressional Republicans will focus on policy and leave any probes of Clinton to law enforcement.
Ryan, meanwhile, tried to calm the nation by suggesting that "people should just really put their minds at ease, we are pluralistic, we're inclusive." Acts of hate, he said, had nothing to do with the GOP.
"People who espouse those views, they're not Republicans and we don't want them in our party even if they're thinking about it. And I'm confident Donald Trump feels the same way," the Wisconsin Republican said on CNN's "State of the Union."
But at least on Sunday, Trump seemed to prefer to relish his election win.
At one point, he noted that Gov. Kasich, who refused to endorse him, "of the GREAT, GREAT, GREAT STATE OF Ohio called to congratulate me on the win." Trump pointedly did not return the congratulations or offer thanks to Kasich. "The people of Ohio were incredible!" he tweeted.
He later attributed his win to his performance in the presidential debates against Democrat Hillary Clinton.
"The debates, especially the second and third, plus speeches and intensity of the large rallies, plus OUR GREAT SUPPORTERS, gave us the win!"
The president-elect remained out of sight at Trump Tower, with streets outside swarming with thousands objecting to the results of Election Day.
At one point, documentary filmmaker Michael Moore, a liberal critic of Trump who nevertheless had predicted his victory, entered the tower lobby with a camera crew in tow and asked to see Trump. "I just thought I'd see if I could get into Trump Tower and ride the famous escalator," said Moore, who did just that until he reached the fourth floor and the Secret Service told him he could go no higher.
Trump may take a victory tour to states that elected him president, an aide said Saturday, as boisterous protests unfolded outside the tower where he holed up with members of his transition team and fielded calls congratulating him.
Conway said Trump's next public appearance was expected "in the next couple of days." When asked if he'd take a victory tour soon, she said: "It's possible. It's possible. We're working on the schedule."
She described his day as "meetings, phone calls, conversations, interviews. What you would expect from a normal presidential transition."
In one gesture of normalcy, Trump pledged to be "very restrained" in the White House with his use of Twitter, "if I use it at all." But he did not sound convinced that he could leave it behind, when asked in a "60 Minutes" interview to be broadcast Sunday. Some of Trump's most inflammatory comments, in a campaign loaded with provocation, came in his late-night tweets.
"I have a method of fighting back," Trump said of social media. He said Twitter is "tremendous" and helped him win races in states where he was vastly outspent. He said he thinks he's proved that social media can be more powerful than money.
Moments after Moore's uninvited visit to Trump Tower, Nigel Farage, head of the "Leave" movement that won Britain's vote to exit the European Union, also arrived. Trump frequently linked his campaign to the Brexit movement.
"It was a great honor to spend time with Donald Trump," Farage said of his hourlong meeting with Trump, according to a statement from his UK Independence Party. "He was relaxed and full of good ideas. I'm confident he will be a good president. His support for the U.S.-UK relationship is very strong. This is a man with whom we can do business."
For Trump, who ran on a pledge to "drain the swamp" of Washington insiders, the transition team is strikingly heavy on those with long political resumes.
Another apparent contradiction emerged Friday as Trump, who repeatedly vowed to achieve the repeal of President Barack Obama's health care law, said he would be open to maintaining portions of it.
Christie was a loyal adviser to Trump for much of the campaign, offered a key early endorsement and came close to being the businessman's pick for running mate. But Trump ultimately went with Pence, Indiana's governor and a former congressman with Washington experience and deep ties to conservatives, to take the transition forward.
Christie will still be involved in the transition, joining a cluster of other steadfast Trump supporters serving as vice chairmen: former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions.
In addition, three of Trump's adult children -- Don Jr., Eric and Ivanka -- are on the transition executive committee, along with Jared Kushner, Ivanka's husband. Kushner was an influential adviser in Trump's campaign.
The children's inclusion raised questions about Trump's ability to sever ties between the administration and the sprawling family business -- after the billionaire repeatedly said during the campaign that his grown children would not follow him to Washington but instead run the Trump Organization.
Trump told The Wall Street Journal that after speaking with Obama at the White House, he was considering keeping the provision of the health law that allows children to stay on their parents' insurance policies until they turn 26. He said previously he may also keep the prohibition against insurers denying coverage because of patients' existing conditions.
Presidents-elect don't often appoint their running mates to lead their transition team. Trump and Christie grew apart through the last stretch of the campaign.
President-elect Donald Trump's transition team is rich with lobbyists and includes a climate change-denier and an ex-federal prosecutor involved in the mass firings of U.S. attorneys.
Some of the individuals listed in an organizational chart of Trump's top transition personnel, obtained by The Associated Press:
DEFENSE AND NATIONAL SECURITY
Retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg has been working closely with Trump adviser and retired Army Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, advising the Trump campaign on matters relating to foreign policy and national security. He was chief operating officer of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, the interim governing body following the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003. He previously worked as executive vice president of research and technology for Virginia-based information technology firm CACI International, which works as a contractor for defense, intelligence and homeland security agencies.
Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., the chairman of the House intelligence committee, has been named to the executive committee of Trump's transition committee. In the role, Nunes said he would help advise the president-elect on appointing individuals to Cabinet and other top positions in the next administration.
Retired Lt. Gen. Ron Burgess served in the Army for 38 years. He spent most of his tenure working in top military intelligence and security assignments. He was director of the Defense Intelligence Agency from 2009 until July 2012. In the fall, he lamented in a speech in Alexander City, Alabama, that new U.S. military recruits will likely be fighting in the Middle East for years to come. He wished current policymakers well and said, "We can't just keep playing this same military version of whack-a-mole."
Mira Ricardel has served as acting assistant secretary of defense for international security policy during the George W. Bush administration from 2003 to 2005. She is a former vice president of business development for Boeing Strategic Missile & Defense Systems, a company that receives a steady flow of contracts from the Defense Department and is a major player in the defense industry.
Retired Brig. Gen. Michael Meese is among the individuals leading the transition for the Department of Veterans Affairs. In 2005, he served as executive director of the secretary of the Army's transition team. He is also a former chief operating officer for the American Armed Forces Mutual Aid Association, a 136-year-old nonprofit organization that assists the armed forces community with insurance, financial planning, survivor assistance and other benefits.
Mike Rogers is taking the lead on crafting Trump's national security team. The former Michigan congressman chaired the House intelligence committee. Rogers is a former U.S. Army officer and FBI special agent. He is a board member of IronNet Cybersecurity, a consultancy run by former NSA director Keith Alexander.
Jim Carafano is the Heritage Foundation's vice president for foreign and defense policy studies and is tasked with transforming the State Department. A 25-year Army veteran, Carafano has been advising Trump on terrorism and border security. In a recent radio interview, Carafano said he told Trump that the next administration must pay more attention to transnational criminal cartels, work more closely with state and local governments to enforce border security, and fight al-Qaida globally.
David R. Malpass is the founder and president of Encima Global LLC, an economic research and consulting firm based in New York City. He served as deputy assistant treasury secretary under President Ronald Reagan and deputy assistant secretary of state under President George W. Bush.
Malpass spent 15 years at Bear Stearns. In a 2007 Wall Street Journal editorial, published nine months before the collapse of his own firm, he wrote: "Housing and debt markets are not that big a part of the U.S. economy, or of job creation. It's more likely the economy is sturdy and will grow solidly in coming months, and perhaps years."
Bill Walton is a senior fellow of the Center on Wealth, Poverty and Morality at the Discovery Institute and vice president of the Council for National Policy. He is also chairman of Rush River Entertainment, which focuses on producing feature films.
Kevin O'Connor served as U.S. attorney in Connecticut from 2002 to 2008, overseeing the office that secured a corruption guilty plea from ex-Gov. John Rowland. He served briefly as chief of staff to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, a George W. Bush appointee who resigned from the Justice Department in 2007 amid a scandal over the firing of U.S. attorneys. After working as a partner at the Bracewell & Giuliani law firm, O'Connor is now managing director and general counsel for Point72 Asset Management, which manages the personal wealth of billionaire hedge fund executive Steven A. Cohen.
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
Myron Ebell is the director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Sometimes called a climate "denier-in-chief," he has long had ties to the fossil fuel industry. Ebell has called for abolition of the EPA and wants to scrap the Paris climate treaty, a deal Trump has vowed to withdraw from.
J. Steven Hart is a former Justice Department special assistant in charge of processing federal judicial nominations under President Ronald Reagan. He is the chairman of Williams & Jensen, a tax and business lobby group in Washington. His biography says he was named one of Washington's top lobbyists by Washingtonian magazine and The Hill newspaper.
HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
Andrew Bremberg is a policy adviser and a member of the counsel on nominations for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. A former policy director for the Republican presidential campaign of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Bremberg has also served as a chief of staff at the Office of Public Health and Science, Department of Health and Human Services, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Shirley Ybarra previously served as Virginia's transportation secretary from 1998 to 2002, and was a senior policy adviser at the U.S. Department of Transportation under the George H.W. Bush administration. She is best known for her advocacy of "public-private partnerships" to raise money for major transportation infrastructure projects and she is a proponent of toll roads.
Ray Washburne is a longtime Republican fundraiser and former finance chairman for the Republican National Committee. Based in Dallas, Washburne runs a boutique investment firm that owns shopping centers and a chain of Mexican restaurants. Before backing Trump, Washburne was the finance chief for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's presidential campaign.
INDEPENDENT FINANCIAL REGULATORY AGENCIES
Paul Atkins is an avowed opponent of regulating Wall Street and served as Securities and Exchange commissioner from 2002 and 2008. During that period, he backed lifting restrictions on leverage taken by investment banks, a move that some blamed for exacerbating the financial crisis.
SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION
Michael Korbey was a senior adviser to the Social Security Administration under the tenure of President George W. Bush. He helped spearhead a public campaign to rally support behind privatizing Social Security. Before that, he worked for the lobbyist group United Seniors Association.
Williamson (Bill) Evers was an adviser to U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings in 2007 under President George W. Bush. A fellow at the Hoover institution, Evers is a strong critic of the standardized curriculum known as "common core," which he has described as "undemocratic."
Michael Torrey is a top Washington agriculture lobbyist and founder of Michael Torrey Associates. He served for one year as deputy chief of staff at the Agriculture Department under the George W. Bush administration and as a deputy assistant secretary of congressional relations at the department for a year prior to that.