A prominent Tea Party leader is warning Donald Trump not to choose RNC chair Reince Priebus as his White House chief of staff.
Reacting to reports that Trump is considering Priebus as one of his top two choices, Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund, said no “D.C. establishment insider” should be given keys to the Trump administration.
“On Tuesday, by giving Donald Trump the victory that stunned so many Washington insiders, the American people voted to change America,” Martin said in a statement published on Facebook late Friday night. “They voted to drain the swamp that is Washington.”
“No Washington insider, regardless of who it is, should serve as President Trump’s chief of staff,” she added. “Appointing Reince Priebus (or any other D.C. establishment insider) would make it more difficult, not less, for President Trump to achieve the change the people voted for.”
A source familiar with Trump’s staffing deliberations told The Hill that the president-elect is seriously considering his campaign CEO, the former Breitbart chairman Steve Bannon, to be his chief of staff.
The contrast between Bannon and Priebus couldn’t be greater.
Priebus is a loyal party man with impeccable connections on Capitol Hill. He counts House Speaker Paul Ryan, a fellow Wisconsinite, as a close friend. Priebus gave Trump his full support during the campaign. But in his ideological leanings, he remains more an institutionalist than a Trump-style, burn-it-down, populist nationalist.
Bannon, by contrast, cares little about preserving the Republican Party or D.C. institutions. He thinks Washington is populated by corrupt politicians who have lost touch with American workers. Bannon would rather turn a blowtorch on the Capitol than preserve it.
Bannon also holds Ryan in contempt. He has told Breitbart staff that the House Speaker is “the enemy.” He thinks Ryan belongs to a globalist elite cabal that’s trying to undermine American sovereignty through open trade and immigration.
If Trump picks Bannon over Priebus, it will send shockwaves through official Washington. Such a move would signal that Trump as president will be no different than Trump as candidate.
Martin, whose group campaigned for Trump in several swing states, hopes Trump keeps his word.
“It's time to drain the swamp,” she said, “not promote insiders beholden to the Washington Establishment who helped create it.”