WASHINGTON, D.C. President-elect Donald Trump unveiled part of his leadership team in his first steps toward the White House since his November 8 win over Democrat Hillary Clinton. Trump tapped Reince Preibus and firebrand Stephen Bannon as his chief counselor and the White House’s chief strategist. The choice of Priebus, the former National Republican Committee chairman, was seen as a signal of Trump’s willingness to work with Congress after he takes office on Jan. 20. But critics blasted the selection of Bannon, who led the Breitbart News website. “There should be no sugarcoating the truth here: Donald Trump just invited a white nationalist into the highest reaches of the government,” said Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley, who called on Trump to rescind the choice.Priebus defended Bannon on Monday, calling him a wise and well-educated former naval officer and saying he had not encountered the sort of extremist or racist views that critics are assailing. “He was a force for good on the campaign,” Priebus said on Fox News, adding they were in agreement on “almost everything” in terms of advising the president-elect.Some Trump backers, counting on the wealthy real estate developer to “drain the swamp” of Washington business-as-usual, quietly expressed surprise that he named Priebus as chief of staff, a position that serves as gatekeeper and agenda-setter for the president. Throughout his career Trump has said he often pits competing staff factions against each other to get a wide range of views. The early stages of his unorthodox presidential campaign were marked by frequent clashes between Paul Manafort, an experienced political insider, and brash manager Corey Lewandowski. Both eventually resigned. Trump said in his statement Priebus and Bannon were “highly qualified leaders” who had helped him win the White House race. Priebus is a longtime Wisconsin political operative who was credited with marshaling party resources for Trump’s White House bid. Bannon, a former Goldman Sachs banker, over the past year led Breitbart News in a charge against the Republican Party establishment, including Priebus’ friend Paul Ryan, the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. ‘DON’T BE AFRAID’In an interview with CBS’ 60 minutes, Trump sought to play down the divisive nature of his candidacy and said Americans alarmed by his election had nothing to fear. “Don’t be afraid. We are going to bring our country back. But certainly, don’t be afraid,” he said.Also in the interview, Trump said he would move to deport up to 3 million immigrants who are in the country illegally and have criminal records.The interview came as protesters marched in the streets, some demonstrations turning to riots, for the fifth straight night. A TRUMP CABINETThe president-elect and his transition team are also working on picking members of his Cabinet and the heads of federal agencies.Among those reported to be under consideration for top posts are former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, as a possible secretary of state or secretary of health and human services; Stephen Hadley, former national security adviser under President George W. Bush, as a possible defense secretary; former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani as attorney general; and former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as interior secretary.
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