The incendiaries vs. the diplomats: Who in Trump’s orbit will get the top White House jobs?

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How Donald Trump governs will be shaped by who he surrounds himself with in Washington. At the moment, that remains an open question. Trump’s orbit now includes some of the most incendiary members of the so-called alt-right and neoconservative movements, as well as Republican Party stalwarts with a very different outlook. Trump is mulling which of them will get the big White House jobs. Here’s a look at the conflicting personalities in his circle:

The incendiaries

Stephen Bannon. The chair of Breitbart News who took a leave of absence to run Trump’s campaign is an enthusiastic evangelist for the alt-right movement that has fanned some of Trump’s most divisive rhetoric about Muslims and immigrants.

Newt Gingrich. The former House speaker crusaded for the impeachment of President Clinton, brought the government to a shutdown that backfired on Republicans and more recently has called for every Muslim in America to be tested, and then deported if they are found to believe in sharia law.


Rudolph W. Giuliani. The former New York mayor was a moderate in office but in more recent years has become a rabid partisan, questioning whether President Obama loves America, promoting conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton’s health and calling her “the biggest criminal to run for the White House.”

Jeff Sessions. The Alabama senator and early Trump supporter staunchly opposes any path to citizenship for immigrants in the country illegally and helped blow up a bipartisan immigration deal in Congress, and then assisted Trump in building his campaign around a theme of nativism.

Chris Christie. The New Jersey governor is not a hardcore ideologue, but a hardcore partisan and shouter with a taste for political vengeance. His operatives were recently found guilty of organizing a plot to snarl traffic into Manhattan to punish a Christie political opponent, and say they did so at Christie’s direction. He has denied it.

The diplomats

Reince Priebus. The Republican Party chairman bucked some leading Republicans when he put the full resources of the party behind Trump, but now he is the GOP establishment’s bridge to the president-elect, and it sees him as the best hope for keeping Trump on task and aligned with congressional leaders.

Ivanka Trump. Trump’s eldest daughter was known to be a cooler head on the campaign trail, a counterbalance to her father’s erratic tendencies who was said to push him toward the center. She even used her speech at the Republican convention to call for federally guaranteed family leave.

Mike Rogers. A respected foreign policy voice on Capitol Hill, the former House Intelligence Committee chairman takes a more mainstream GOP approach to engaging in other parts of the world than Trump, does not share Trump’s fondness for Russian President Vladimir Putin, and has a temperament that could help ease concerns about what a Trump administration will do with the nuclear codes.


Kellyanne Conway. The unflappable demeanor of Trump’s campaign manager and her skill at dousing the fires of controversy Trump ignited along the campaign trail have almost certainly earned her a top spot in the administration, and she is someone her many friends in the GOP establishment are glad to do business with.

Mike Pence. Liberals detest the vice president-elect, a hard-line religious conservative, but the GOP establishment sees him as its best hope for keeping Trump working in concert with the Republican Congress and maybe keeping him from savage Twitter outbursts during delicate negotiations.

Follow me: @evanhalper


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