News Analysis: Trump’s staff choice sparks early controversy for incoming administration

By Matthew Rusling

WASHINGTON,   (Xinhua) — U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s choice of White House staff has sparked an early controversy, as he prepares to take the helm at the White House.

The choice of Steve Bannon as Trump’s chief of staff is taking heat from U.S. media, members of Congress, and left-leaning groups over the decision.

Bannon, who publishes online news website Breitbart, is being lambasted by a number of liberal groups for what they call promoting racist ideology in his publication. Some groups are even calling for Bannon to get booted out.

On Wednesday, 169 members of the U.S. House of Representatives sent a letter to Trump, asking him to rescind the appointment of Bannon. Although House Republicans were invited to sign on, none did so, according to a press release sent out Wednesday to reporters, from Congressman Jerrold Nadler’s office.

“Trump’s choice of Bannon will hurt him because it reinforces the view that the president is contemplating extreme action,” Brookings Institution Senior Fellow Darrell West told Xinhua.

“People fear that Bannon will promulgate anti-minority and anti-women viewpoints, since those were common on his website,” West said.

“Many groups have expressed concern over this appointment and asked that it be withdrawn. This is very rare for that to happen in presidential politics,” he added.

Dan Mahaffee, an analyst with the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, told Xinhua that Trump’s choice of Bannon avoids alienating a large amount of the Republican Party’s grassroots that propelled Trump on the path to the White House.

“Yet it raises significant concerns among Washington establishment groups about the tone of the Trump administration and potential influence from nationalist and populist players,” he said.

Trump’s transition to power has so far been rocky, according to U.S. media reports, with some reports even suggesting the administration is in disarray as it tries to fill more than 1,000 positions in the next couple of months before Trump takes charge.

“I think the Trump administration is at a major turning point in the transition, with significant conflict between establishment figures and outsiders, and that appears to be a major issue with the national security side of the transition,” Mahaffee said.

“Regardless of Bannon, if (Trump’s) inner circle is fighting against itself with major players leaving the process, combined with a struggle between those favoring loyalty versus those favoring competence, the Trump administration could be wasting precious time in getting its transition moving,” he said.

Indeed, reports in U.S. media contend that the transition is in disarray, with some figures, such as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who was fired as head of Trump’s transition team.

For their part, some Democrats seem conciliatory and are seeking ways to join Trump rather than oppose him.

“I think Democrats are currently looking for areas where they might be able to cooperate with Trump, while also taking stock of the surprising loss they experienced up and down the ballot. Other than the filibuster, their only way to work towards their policy goals is via dealing with Trump,” Mahaffee said.

West said that Democratic leaders acknowledge that Trump won the election and deserves a chance to show what he can do. However, as soon as he makes policy proposals, many Democrats are expected to oppose his ideas which they say are bad for America.

“Republicans will have the ability to move legislation since they control both chambers, but most Democrats will not support the more far-reaching ideas being contemplated,” West added.