White House Communications Director Hope Hicks announced this week that she is resigning. The White House asserts that Hicks had been considering leaving the White House for several weeks, and that her decision had nothing to do with the current controversies surrounding the White House. Nevertheless, though we’re less surprised each time we hear of a new White House firing or resignation, Hope Hicks’ departure raises eyebrows for a few reasons.
Hicks’ Departure Fuels Speculation on Possible Motivation:
Hicks announced her plans to resign the day after testifying before the House Intelligence Committee during a nine-hour session. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team questioned Hicks as part of the investigation into Russia interference in the 2016 election.
During the session, Hicks told the House Intelligence Committee that she occasionally told “white lies” for Trump. She assured the Committee, however, that she had not lied about anything connected with the Russia investigation. For much of the questioning, Hicks elected to use the shield of executive privilege to refrain from answering. Is she worried about placing herself in legal jeopardy?
Hope Hicks, as one of the President’s most trusted aides, has access to a lot of sensitive information. Does she know more than we think about James Comey’s firing? What could she tell us about events during certain meetings?
As White House Communications Director, Hope Hicks was instrumental in drafting a White House statement, during a meeting aboard Air Force One, in response to the speculation about Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with Russian lawyers who promised damaging information on Hilary Clinton.
An additional awkward situation in which Hope Hicks has found herself in the middle is that of former White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter, who resigned under pressure following spousal abuse and domestic violence allegations. While Hicks was in a romantic relationship with Porter, her job required that she draft the official communication of the White House response to the issue.
The Element of Surprise
Hope Hicks has been President Trump’s longest-serving aide. She began as Donald Trump’s press secretary in January of 2015, when Trump decided to run for President. Hicks had previously worked for Ivanka Trump’s fashion line, starting in August of 2014. She has had close access to the President – almost as close as that of an immediate family member.
As one of the most influential people to Donald Trump, Hope Hicks had Trump’s ear, as well as the ability to “manage” Trump. She not only tried to protect his image for the news, she tried to protect Trump from the news, or at least “deliver to the President the type of world that he believes is unfolding. She would interpret articles for him, and essentially present to him a curated version of what’s happening,” according to Michael Wolff’s book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.
As Trump’s right-hand person, Hope Hicks has worked around the clock, 365 days a year, for Trump. She’s been referred to as Trump’s “one-woman PR firm.” It’s possible that Hope Hicks is simply burned out.
White House Churn
Hope Hicks, the youngest-ever White House Communications Director, came to the post with no prior experience for the role. As with others who have been appointed to posts in the Trump administration, many speculate that Hicks would likely not have had the opportunity, but for Trump. Nevertheless, she did her job well, and was widely liked and respected.
According to Ed O’Keefe, of the Washington Post, “Part of the reason she got the job in the first place is because several seasoned Republican or other communication professionals here in Washington, or in other parts of the country were approached, and simply took a pass on it….And it will be curious to see whether they find someone who comes out of professional Republican politics or Washington political handling, so to speak, who may want or be able to step into this role, or who frankly could step into this role, and have the President’s trust and his ear the way that she has over the last several (years.)”
Immediately following the downgrade of nearly three dozen White House Employees’ security clearances (including that of Jared Kushner), some say that Hicks’ resignation is further demonstration that the Trump transition was poorly managed, and too quickly executed. Poor planning has resulted in the ongoing problems that continually plague the Trump Administration.
Hope Hicks will be eighteenth on the list of White House staff who have either resigned or been fired. The White House now must look for its fifth Communications Director since the start of the Trump Presidency. As one would expect, morale is at an all-time low at the White House.
Hope Hicks to Resign: President Trump Losing Trusted Adviser | Fox News
Analysis: Hope Hicks Resigns Amid Controversy | Associated Press