RNC Chair Reince Priebus is President-elect Trump's pick for White House chief of staff

Priebus and Bannon take top Trump jobs

Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee whose party building was seen as integral to President-elect Donald Trump's stunning White House win, has been named White House chief of staff.

Priebus will serve alongside Trump campaign chief Steve Bannon, who was also tapped as senior counselor to Trump, the transition team announced on Sunday.

Bannon is CEO of right-wing website Breitbart News.

"I am thrilled to have my very successful team continue with me in leading our country," Trump said.

"Steve and Reince are highly qualified leaders who worked well together on our campaign and led us to a historic victory. Now I will have them both with me in the White House as we work to make America great again."

Preibus, a 44-year-old Wisconsin native, took the reins at the party organization in 2011, following the rough tenure of Michael Steele. Priebus was considered something of an unknown quantity, and is viewed with suspicion by some of the GOP's tea party wing.

Last week, a tea party activist told CNN that Priebus was a "Washington insider" who would undercut Trump's promise to end Washington corruption and special interests.

"It is truly an honor to join President-elect Trump in the White House as his Chief of Staff," Priebus said in a statement.

"I am very grateful to the President-elect for this opportunity to serve him and this nation as we work to create an economy that works for everyone, secure our borders, repeal and replace Obamacare and destroy radical Islamic terrorism," he added.

Chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC) Reince Priebus (R) shakes hands with Republican presidential elect Donald Trump (L) during election night at the New York Hilton Midtown in New York on November 9, 2016
Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images

During the raucous primary season, Priebus drew criticism for taking a neutral position in the crowded GOP primary, and was frequently blasted for his inability to rein in the brash real estate mogul. Some even faulted Priebus for not doing more to prevent Trump's rise.

During his victory speech early Wednesday, the president-elect heaped effusive praise on him, calling him an "unbelievable star."

Bannon is likely to be a lightning rod for criticism. During Trump's primary run, his Breitbart website was seen as a hub of "alt-right" sentiment. It became linked to much of the movement's underbelly, which trafficked in racist and anti-Semitic commentary online.

The chief of staff is considered the highest ranking White House employee, and serves as gatekeeper between the Oval Office and the sprawling bureaucracy of the federal government's top management.