Donald Trump has begun the process of staffing his administration.
His first major decision was what position to give campaign CEO Steve Bannon.
And the position Trump named him sent shockwaves throughout the establishment.
When Bannon was brought on as CEO – along with Kellyanne Conway as campaign manager – Trump’s campaign was at a low point.
Trump was trailing in the polls, and it looked like Hillary Clinton was a sure winner.
But Bannon helped guide the campaign’s message to amplify Trump’s populist appeal.
Trump railed against the global elite who had rigged society against everyday Americans through trade deals that stripped away their jobs, immigration policies that depressed their wages, and foreign wars their children fought in that didn’t serve American interests.
Focusing on populism helped Trump win Midwest states like Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – and ultimately the Presidency.
Bannon joined the campaign from Breitbart News where he regularly attacked establishment Republicans like Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, for selling out conservatives to advance the agenda of the donor class.
And after Trump’s victory, many speculated as to what Bannon’s role in the administration would be.
That question was swiftly answered when President-elect Trump named Bannon as his chief strategist and senior advisor.
The move thrilled the grassroots – and sent chills down the spines of establishment Republicans.
But it’s Bannon’s joyful crusade against GOP establishment that has Washington Republicans on edge.
Bannon, a former naval officer and Goldman Sachs executive, has relished needling Republican stalwarts like John McCain (who he accuses of supporting “amnesty” for undocumented immigrants) and Romney (who he once suggested he’d never support because neither he nor any of his sons served in the military).
He spent years producing and promoting a documentary-style ode to the tea party and Sarah Palin — another tormentor of GOP insiders. (Asked in 2011 if he’d work on a Palin presidential bid, he said, “I’m not a political guy.”)
Bannon also fomented accusations that Barack Obama’s administration had been infiltrated by supporters of sharia law.
And throughout 2016, Bannon repeatedly gave a Breitbart News Radio platform to Ryan’s primary opponent, Paul Nehlen, to ridicule the speaker. (Ryan would eventually eviscerate Nehlen by nearly 70 points).
Above all else, Bannon built his career mocking the Republican political elite as out-of-touch.
“The Republican establishment has more distaste for you than the progressive left,” he said in a 2012 speech to Alaska activists gathered at the Conservative Political Action Conference. “I realize that’s a hard thing to embrace.”
Bannon’s role is considered equal to that of Reince Preibus, who was named Chief of Staff.
Chief of Staff is generally considered the second most powerful position in the administration, and Bannon will have equal standing in his role of senior advisor.
Bannon’s new appointment has cheered many conservatives who take it as sign that President-elect Trump will stick to his guns on immigration, trade, and foreign policy.