Reince Priebus (Photo credit: Gage Skidmore)
President-elect Donald Trump on Sunday chose Reinhold “Reince” Priebus, a Wisconsin lawyer who chairs the Republican National Committee, to serve as his chief of staff.
Priebus has been on leave from Milwaukee-based Am Law 200 firm Michael Best & Friedrich, where he is still listed as a partner, since he assumed the RNC chairmanship in 2011. A University of Miami School of Law graduate, Priebus was previously general counsel for the RNC and chairman of the Wisconsin Republican Party, where he had close ties to former Republican presidential candidate and current Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.
In the days since his stunning election victory over Hillary Clinton, Trump had reportedly considered both Priebus and Breitbart News executive Stephen Bannon for the powerful chief of staff position. Trump instead named Bannon his senior adviser and White House strategist on Sunday, a move that maintains a central role for the right-wing media mogul in the fledgling administration.
While Priebus’ appointment may reassure some establishment Republicans, Bannon got top billing in Sunday’s announcement. “Steve and Reince are highly qualified leaders who worked well together on our campaign and led us to a historic victory,” Trump said in a statement. The announcement said the pair would work as “equal partners” to “transform the federal government.”
Priebus was part of both the litigation and corporate groups at Michael Best & Friedrich, and he also served as co-chair of the firm’s government and public policy team. In 2011, the then-38-year-old Priebus defeated incumbent RNC chairman Michael Steel, a former Dewey & LeBoeuf partner, to eventually become the RNC’s longest-serving leader. At the RNC, Priebus was credited with turning around a debt-ridden organization and recognizing key changes in the electorate.
After months spent caulking over the fissures that Trump created within his party, Priebus called his chief of staff appointment an honor. His role in the administration, he said in a statement Sunday, will be to help Trump “create an economy that works for everyone, secure our borders, repeal and replace Obamacare and destroy radical Islamic terrorism.”