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Donald Trump’s Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus, Defends Controversial Strategist Steve Bannon

President-elect Donald Trump‘s new chief of staff, Reince Priebus, defended incoming White House strategist Steve Bannon against reports that he’s associated with white nationalist, anti-Semite and alt-right advocates during appearances on the Today show and Good Morning America on Monday, November 14.

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“He’s very, very smart, very temperate,” the Republican National Committee chairman, 44, said of the Breitbart News executive chairman, 62, during an interview with Today‘s Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie.

Donald Trump and Reince Priebus
Donald Trump and Reince Priebus during his election night event at the New York Hilton Midtown in 2016.

After the Trump campaign announced its controversial decision to tap Bannon, who was also named the administration’s senior counselor, several reports surfaced accusing Bannon of disseminating racist propaganda through the years.

“The guy I know is a guy that isn’t any of those things,” Priebus explained. “In the last few months, he’s exhibited none of those qualities.”

Steve Bannon
Steve Bannon attends a campaign rally at the W.L. Zorn Arena in 2016.

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The new chief of staff echoed similar statements on GMA, saying, “I don’t know where [the critics are] coming from. That’s not the Steve Bannon that I know. … Look at the person. Get to know the person. This is a very, very smart person.”

After Trump, 70, formally selected Bannon for his Cabinet on Sunday, November 13, Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt released a statement slamming the designation.

“It is a sad day when a man who presided over the premier website of the ‘alt-right’ — a loose-knit group of white nationalists and unabashed anti-Semites and racists — is slated to be a senior staff member in the ‘people’s house,'” Greenblatt said, per ABC News.

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Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada also released a statement on Sunday, saying, “President-elect Trump’s choice of Steve Bannon as his top aide signals that white supremacists will be represented at the highest levels in Trump’s White House.”

Despite the newest controversy, Priebus insists the Trump will be a successful leader. “You’re going to find out in a few months, as people see the agenda roll out in the first 28 days and the first 100 days, that he’s going to be a president for all Americans and he’s going to make you proud,” he said on Today.

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