WASHINGTON - The Republican National Committee spokesman Sean Spicer will serve as U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's press secretary in the White House when he takes office next month, Trump announced on Thursday.
To round out his communications team, the president-elect appointed loyalists from his upstart presidential campaign. Hope Hicks, Trump's sole spokeswoman when he began what was considered a longshot candidacy in June 2015, will be director of strategic communications.
Jason Miller was appointed director of communications and Dan Scavino was named director of social media.
Spicer, 45, served as RNC spokesman during Trump's presidential campaign, alongside party chairman Reince Priebus, who stood by Trump amid furious opposition from establishment Republicans and was rewarded with the chief of staff position.
Acerbic and professional, Spicer, a Navy Reserve commander, has been openly critical of media coverage of Republican candidates and the president-elect, but insists the future U.S. leader has a high regard for press freedom.
"We understand and respect the role that the press plays in a democracy. It is healthy, it's important. But it's a two-way street," Spicer told Politico recently, before bashing the news outlet for what he said was exclusively negative coverage.
Spicer, who has been a spokesman for the Trump transition team, has a long background in public affairs.
He led a turnaround in the RNC's public affairs operation after taking over as communications director in 2011. He beefed up social media operations, built an in-house TV production team and created a rapid response effort to reply to attacks.
Spicer worked in President George W. Bush's administration as the assistant U.S. Trade Representative for media and public affairs. Before that, he was communications director for the Republican Conference in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Spicer has tried to reassure news organizations that Trump will not try to ban them from covering him, as the president-elect sometimes sought to do during the election campaign.
But Spicer and other Trump aides have indicated the new president would shake up the status quo in White House dealings with the media, including re-examining the need for daily televised news briefings and the practice of assigned seating in the briefing room.
"I think we have to look at everything," Spicer told Fox News when asked about the briefings. "And so I don't know that it needs to be daily. I don't know that they all need to be on camera."
Kellyanne Conway, a Republican pollster who was widely credited with bringing a more disciplined approach to Donald Trump's presidential election campaign, will become White House counselor when he takes office next month.
In her new post, Conway will play a key advisory role, helping to manage Trump's messaging and legislative priorities, the transition team said in a statement on Thursday. It praised Conway, 49, as the first woman campaign manager to guide a winning U.S. presidential campaign.
Trump named Peter Navarro, an economist who has urged a hard line on trade with China, to head a newly formed White House National Trade Council, the transition team said on Wednesday.
Navarro is an academic and one-time investment adviser who has authored a number of popular books and made a film describing China's threat to the U.S. economy as well as Beijing's desire to become the dominant economic and military power in Asia.
Trump's team praised Navarro in a statement as a "visionary" economist who would "develop trade policies that shrink our trade deficit, expand our growth, and help stop the exodus of jobs from our shores."
Trump, a Republican, made trade a centerpiece of his presidential campaign and railed against what he said were bad deals the United States had made with other countries. He has threatened to hit Mexico and China with high tariffs once he takes office on Jan. 20.
Navarro, 67, is a professor at University of California, Irvine, and advised Trump during the campaign. His books include "Death by China: How America Lost its Manufacturing Base," which was made into a documentary film.
As well as describing what he sees as America's losing economic war with China, Navarro has highlighted concerns over environmental issues related to Chinese imports and the theft of U.S. intellectual property.
China is paying close attention to Trump's transition team and the possible direction of policy, a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said after being asked about Navarro's appointment.
"Cooperation is the only correct choice. We hope the U.S. works hard with China to maintain the healthy, stable development of ties, including business and trade ties," the spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, told a daily press briefing.
While Trump in the statement praised the "clarity" of Navarro's arguments and the "thoroughness of his research," few other economists have endorsed Navarro's ideas.
Marcus Noland, an economist at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, likened a tax and trade paper authored by Navarro and Wilbur Ross, who has been named as Trump's commerce secretary, to "the type of magical thinking best reserved for fictional realities" for what he said was its flawed economic analysis.