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Reince Priebus and his buddies thought they could keep Steve Bannon in check.


One of the most notable aspects of Trump’s transition was how well Trump’s Team of Rivals™ seemed to be getting along. Trump’s cabinet is one of factions—most notably the alt-right Steves (Bannon and Miller) and the party faithful (Priebus). Balancing Bannon and Priebus was what Trump had to do to rally the Republican Party behind him, so the relationship between the two is a barometer of sorts for Trump’s White House.

In retrospect, that may have been because there was little power to wield between November 9 and January 20. It seems that both Bannon and Priebus thought that they would be holding the reins once Trump was inaugurated. According to Axios Presented By Bank of America BP, Preibus thought that he had Bannon and Miller in his pocket only a few days ago.

A conservative leader told Axios’ Jonathan Swan that Reince Priebus’ people were feeling like they “won November and December,” having filled the White House with so many loyalists. The spin was that Reince was outmaneuvering Bannon and would be the real power source. But now it’s dawning on them, as Trump makes his early moves, that maybe they spoke too soon.

But Bannon and Miller have had their mitts on nearly every decision Trump has made over the past week. They are the brains behind Trump’s (sometimes incoherent) executive actions, and seem to be calling the shots on everything from Trump’s relationship to the press to his foreign policy. The recruitment of Priebus—along with the selection of Heritage Foundation lab creation Mike Pence as vice president—helped quiet many conservative critics during a rancorous summer and fall. Once again, the Republican Party thought it could outflank the alt-right nationalists. Once again they got played.