Thursday 16 August 2018

President loses his fourth communications chief as ex-model Hicks to resign

Sean Spicer. Photo: AP
Sean Spicer. Photo: AP

Nick Allen

Hope Hicks, one of Donald Trump's most fiercely loyal aides and a key part of his inner circle, is to resign as White House communications director.

Ms Hicks (29), who was one of the very first people to join Mr Trump's fledgling presidential campaign team in 2015, was widely regarded as his gatekeeper, perhaps the closest person to him in the White House apart from his family.

She sat at the desk closest to the Oval Office and was present for nearly every crucial moment of Mr Trump's campaign and presidency.

The day before deciding to resign, Ms Hicks had spent nine hours giving evidence to the House Intelligence Committee which is investigating whether there was collusion between Mr Trump's campaign and Russia.

During that testimony she admitted occasionally having told "white lies" on behalf of Mr Trump, but said she had not lied about anything relevant to the Russia probe.

She also declined to answer questions relating to events since Mr Trump took office.

Ms Hicks has also been interviewed by special counsel Robert Mueller's team about her role in crafting a statement about Donald Trump Jr's 2016 meeting with Russians at Trump Tower.

Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, said Ms Hicks's resignation was not related to her testimony.

She said: "Don't try to read more into it than exists. This is something that she's been thinking about for a while."

The reason for the resignation was not clear. But Ms Hicks consistently tried to avoid media attention and, according to a person who talked to her, she had increasingly been feeling the stress of the high-profile role.

She had been romantically linked to Rob Porter, the White House staff secretary, who resigned earlier this month after being accused of domestic violence by two ex-wives, allegations he has denied.

Ms Hicks had worked to defend Mr Porter from the allegations, helping to craft the White House's initial supportive response.

She is expected to leave the White House in the next few weeks.

Before working for Mr Trump the former Ralph Lauren fashion model had worked in public relations promoting the brands of the president's daughter Ivanka.

She became Mr Trump's spokeswoman and as his campaign gained steam she single-handedly and effectively fielded an ever increasing deluge of calls from journalists.

In August 2017, she was promoted to become the fourth White House communications director under Mr Trump. Her predecessors were Mike Dubke, Sean Spicer, and Anthony ­Scaramucci.

In a statement, Ms Hicks said: "There are no words to ­adequately express my ­gratitude to President Trump.

"I wish the president and his administration the very best as he continues to lead our country."

Mr Trump said: "Hope is outstanding and has done great work for the last three years. She is as smart and thoughtful as they come, a truly great person.

"I will miss having her by my side, but when she approached me about pursuing other opportunities, I totally understood. I am sure we will work together again in the future."

John Kelly, the White House chief of staff, said: "When I became chief of staff I quickly realised what so many have learned about Hope. She is strategic, poised and wise beyond her years.

"She became a trusted adviser and counsellor and did a tremendous job overseeing the communications for the president's agenda, including the passage of historic tax reform.

"She has served her country with great distinction.

"To say that she will be missed is an understatement."

© ­Daily ­Telegraph London

Irish Independent

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