Washington Week

Friday Nights on PBS

6 Things to Know About...Reince Priebus

By Joan Greve
Washington Week Fellow

President-elect Donald Trump’s senior staff is beginning to take shape. His campaign recently announced that Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus would serve as his chief of staff, pleasing much of the GOP establishment who hoped that Trump would prioritize Washington experience in his choice. Before Priebus moves into his West Wing office, brush up on the experience that he brings.

Reince Priebus

  1. He has served as RNC chair since 2011, making him the committee’s longest-serving leader in modern history.
  2. Before taking over the RNC, Priebus led the Republican Party of Wisconsin. Republicans picked up a Senate seat, the governorship and two House seats, as well as majorities in both chambers of the state congress.
  3. Priebus enjoys a close relationship with fellow Wisconsin Republican and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who championed Trump’s choice of Priebus for chief of staff.
  4. As chair of the RNC, Priebus conducted an “autopsy report” following Mitt Romney’s loss in the 2012 presidential race. The report called for several changes in tactics, including broader outreach to women and minority voters. The Trump campaign ironically did not closely follow the recommendations of the autopsy report but managed to deliver the White House back to the GOP.
  5. Priebus had occasionally voiced concern or criticism of Trump during the presidential campaign. He stated that he did not agree with Trump’s proposal of a Muslim immigration ban, and, when a 2005 Access Hollywood tape revealed Trump describing groping and kissing women without consent, Priebus said,  “No woman should ever be described in these terms or talked about in this manner. Ever.”
  6. Reince, whose real first name is Reinhold, enjoys playing the piano and even won competitions during his childhood. Back in April, he played a bit for CNN and talked about his love of the instrument. His favorite genre? Blues.
    See how Trump's administration is taking shape: 

    Attorney General: Jeff Sessions
    Chief strategist: Stephen Bannon
    Chief of staff: Reince Priebus
    National Security adviser: Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn
    CIA director: Mike Pompeo
    Agriculture secretary:
    Commerce secretary: Wilbur Ross
    Defense secretary: Gen. James Mattis
    Education secretary: Betsy DeVos
    Energy secretary:
    Health and Human Services secretary: Tom Price
    Homeland Security secretary: Gen. John Kelly
    Housing and Urban Development secretary: Ben Carson
    Secretary of state:
    Interior secretary:
    Treasury secretary: Steven Mnuchin
    Transportation secretary: Elaine Chao
    Veteran Affairs secretary:
    EPA administrator: Scott Pruitt