White House Chiefs Bannon, Priebus “Clash” at CPAC


In what could only be described as anti-climatic, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon joined Chairman of the American Conservative Union Matt Schlapp to have a heart-to-heart discussion about the state of the White House and how the first month in office has gone.

If one were to believe recent reports, a “clash” would have been reasonable to expect. Priebus and Bannon have been rumored, by multiple media outlets, to have been at each other’s throats since President Trump’s inauguration. But Jonathan Easley helped put that #FakeNews to bed in a piece at The Hill earlier this week. And on Thursday, in front of a packed house at CPAC, Priebus and Bannon demonstrated a comfort sharing the stage with each other and a genuine enjoyment of each other’s company.

Asked by Schlapp to name one thing they appreciated about one another, Priebus was quick to praise Bannon’s sense of dedication for President Trump staying true to candidate Trump’s campaign promises. Bannon offered effusive praise for Priebus and explained that Priebus has “the toughest job I’ve ever seen” and manages to keep everything running smoothly in the present, while keeping an eye to future executive orders and legislative tasks approaching several weeks down the pike.

While Priebus, as usual, did a fantastic job, Bannon, who is typically reclusive and avoids public appearances, may have stolen the show. Bannon frequently referred to the mainstream news media as “the opposition party,” which evoked laughter from hundreds of conservative activists in attendance. Bannon also characterized the battle against the “corporatist, globalist” media as just beginning, telling the audience point blank, “If you think they’re going to give you back your country without a fight, you’re sadly mistaken!”

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Bannon proudly listed off elements of President Trump’s platform, including an emphasis on “economic nationalism” and the “deconstruction of the administrative state.” Priebus added that President Trump takes intense pride in the new administration’s rule on regulations: for each new regulation a department wants to add, they must eliminate two.

Overall, Priebus and Bannon oozed confidence when discussing the Trump administration’s plans going forward and encouraged activists in attendance to stay engaged. Bannon implored the audience to “have our backs,” which drew a lengthy round of applause, but then emphasized further the importance of “hold[ing] us accountable for delivering on what we promised.”

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore

Jon Schweppe

Jon Schweppe is the Director of Government Affairs for American Principles Project. Follow him on Twitter @JonSchweppe