Trump taps top aides to RNC, Sessions for key White House roles

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President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday rewarded top aides to some of his closest confidants with key positions in the White House as he builds out a team that is heavy on veterans from the Republican National Committee (RNC) and the office of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.).

Trump’s team announced the hiring of Katie Walsh, the former finance director and chief of staff at the RNC, as deputy chief of staff at the White House.

Walsh will be going back to work for her old boss, former RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, who will be Trump’s chief of staff.


Walsh was a fast riser at the RNC, which under Priebus’s leadership embraced Trump’s candidacy at an early stage and was instrumental in providing the resources he needed to get elected.

Walsh and former RNC strategist Sean Spicer, who has taken a job at the White House as press secretary, were Preibus’s top aides at the RNC. Trump on Wednesday also brought on Raj Shah, a research director at the RNC, to act in the same role in his White House.

Also on Wednesday, Trump hired Sessions’s chief of staff Rick Dearborn to lead the White House legislative affairs office, a position that will be critical in helping to guide Trump’s legislative agenda through Congress. He will be assisted in that role by Marc Short, a close ally of Vice President-elect Mike Pence.

Dearborn has decades of experience on Capitol Hill. He will join another former Sessions aide, Stephen Miller, at the White House. Miller is a senior adviser to Trump and his chief speechwriter.

Sessions is Trump’s pick for attorney general. His Senate confirmation hearing is next week.

The Trump transition team on Wednesday also announced that Joe Hagin, a veteran of the last three Republican White Houses, will serve as deputy chief of staff for operations.

But the hiring of Walsh and Dearborn will get the most attention, as they come from different and sometimes competing spheres of Trump’s orbit.

There have been reports of tension between Priebus and Steve Bannon, the former Breitbart News executive who will act as a senior adviser to Trump.

Trump’s allies have downplayed those reports, but political watchers are reading the tea leaves to see who appears to have the most influence over the president-elect.

“Rick and Katie have been instrumental in our victory and transition efforts,” Bannon said in a statement.

“These leaders will guide critical White House operations as we aggressively follow through on President-elect Trump’s promise to put America First.”

In a second wave of hires, the transition team confirmed that Omarosa Manigault, a contestant from one of the early seasons of “The Apprentice,” will be Trump’s director of communications for the office of public liaison.

Bill Stepien, a former top aide to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.), has been brought on as a political director. Stepien and Christie split over the Bridgegate affair. Despite being an early supporter of Trump’s, Christie has been distanced from the Trump transition and White House.

And Pence’s former chief of staff from his time in the House, Josh Pitcock, will serve as his new chief of staff in the White House.

– This story was updated at 3 p.m.

Tags Donald Trump Jeff Sessions Mike Pence
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