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Bridging The Gap
Meet the key players in the Trump White House
  Tuesday 17 January, 2017
Meet the key players in the Trump White House

President-elect Donald Trump enters the White House this week with a mix of longtime allies, Washington insiders and political upstarts at his side.

The inner circle includes the strategists who helped guide the political novice to a surprise victory last fall and a cadre of Republican National Committee officials who worked to unite the party behind Trump after a contentious GOP primary.

For many, the new administration marks their first tour of duty in the White House.

A look at the key players on Team Trump:

Mike Pence, vice president-elect

The former Indiana governor already has a powerful hand in shaping in the incoming administration as the chairman of the presidential transition, and he’s worked to build bridges with Congress, where he served six terms in the House.

In addition, Pence’s longtime aide Marc Short will serve as the White House’s director of legislative affairs, a key liaison between the White House and Capitol Hill.

Reince Priebus, White House chief of staff

The GOP loyalist is the Republican National Committee’s longest-serving chairman and has strong ties to Congress and House Speaker Paul Ryan, a fellow Wisconsinite.

Priebus, pronounced PREE-bus, was a fundraising workhorse at the RNC, which faced more than $20 million in debt when he took over in 2011. Republican insiders credit the low-key lawyer with engineering the party’s financial turnaround and building a robust data and voter-turnout operation that helped the GOP capture the White House and retain its majority in Congress in 2016.

Priebus’ RNC’s chief of staff, Katie Walsh, is joining him in the White House as Trump’s deputy chief of staff.

Stephen Bannon, senior counselor and chief White House strategist

Bannon, the former executive chairman of the conservative website Breitbart News, will work with Priebus as “equal partners” in the White House, according to the Trump team’s news release, announcing Bannon’s appointment.

The former Goldman Sachs executive has been described by friends and foes as a combative figure, who promotes a populist agenda and rails against the Republican Party establishment and the “globalists” he says have undermined the American working class.

Bannon joined Trump’s campaign as chairman last August, as part of a shakeup encouraged by Republican donor Bob Mercer and his daughter Rebekah Mercer, Trump supporters who back an array of conservative activist organizations.

Kellyanne Conway, White House counselor

Conway, a veteran Republican pollster, also joined the Trump campaign last August and became the first woman to manage a successful presidential campaign. She will be the highest-ranking woman in the White House.

She’s already a ubiquitous television presence on his behalf and has been one of his closest advisers during the campaign and the transition to the White House.

She told CNN that her job portfolio at the White House “will be whatever the president wants it to be.”

Sean Spicer, communications director and press secretary

Spicer, well-known in Washington as the Republican National Committee’s hard-charging chief spokesman, will be among one of the most prominent public faces of Trump’s White House.

Spicer, a Navy Reserve commander, is not afraid to publicly feud with journalists. He has signaled that the Trump administration could change the status quo in its dealings with White House reporters and has talked about giving the public more avenues to ask questions.

Jared Kushner, senior adviser

Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, is one of the incoming president’s closest confidants. The soft-spoken real-estate developer and media investor is married to Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump.

Kushner does not intend to draw a salary from the government but will have a wide portfolio, including trade, government operations and the Middle East. Trump has pointed to Kushner, an Orthodox Jew whose family has philanthropic interests in Israel, as a potential player in Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts.

In a post-election interview with The New York Times, Trump called Kushner a “very smart guy.”

“I think he can be very helpful,” Trump said. “I would love to be able to be the one that made peace with Israel and the Palestinians.”

Although the transition team has not announced plans for Ivanka Trump to join the White House, she is one of her father's most trusted advisers. Incoming White House officials already have begun talks with House's tax-writing committee about a plan touted by Ivanka Trump that would allow parents to take a tax deduction on some child-care expenses.

Jeff Sessions, Attorney General-designate

The Alabama senator, who is Trump’s choice to run the Justice Department, isn’t joining the White House team, but he has had deep influence in the incoming administration.

In February 2016, Sessions endorsed Trump ahead of key primaries in the South, becoming the first U.S. senator to back the real-estate developer’s presidential campaign. Now, Sessions, who serves as a vice chairman of the Trump transition, will see two of his staffers in key White House jobs.

His former aide Stephen Miller was an early Trump hire, joining the campaign in January 2016 as a senior policy adviser. He drafted many of candidate’s major speeches and is expected to have a hand in writing Trump’s inaugural address. He will serve as a senior policy adviser in the White House.

Rick Dearborn, Sessions’ former chief of staff, is executive director of Trump’s presidential transition and will work as deputy chief of staff for policy in the White House.

Tom Barrack, Presidential Inaugural Committee chairman

The California private-equity executive has known Trump for more than three decades and hosted the first major fundraiser of Trump’s general election campaign. As inaugural chairman, he heads a fundraising team that has collected more than $90 million to underwrite the festivities surrounding Trump’s swearing-in and will remain an influential figure in Trump’s orbit long after the inauguration.

Other big donors occupy key roles in the Trump world.

Tech billionaire Peter Thiel, Trump’s most prominent Silicon Valley backer, sits on the presidential transition team and orchestrated a post-election powwow between Trump and the nation’s biggest tech executives. Rebekah Mercer, who oversaw a super PAC promoting Trump’s candidacy, also sits on the transition’s executive committee with Thiel.

Source: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/onpolitics/2017/01/17/key-players-trump-white-house/96533608/

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