Hope Hicks, the former White House Communications Director and President Trump’s “surrogate daughter” as she has been described, has racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees according to a source close to the White House. “This is a sign the Mueller investigation is a lot more serious than any one of us thought.”
Hicks, who has become known as something of a President-Trump whisperer in her time at the White House announced her resignation this week in a move that affected the President in ways that other West Wing departures have not.
“Hope is outstanding and has done great work for the last three years,” the President said today. “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.”
“Her most important role is her bond with the candidate,” Paul Manafort, former Trump’s campaign manager once said of her. “She totally understands him.”
Hicks is a longtime personal aide and confidant not just to President Trump but to the entire Trump family. She started working in First Daughter Ivanka Trump’s fashion business before transitioning to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and became one of most the President’s most trusted aides in the course of her time working him.
But in recent weeks breathless media coverage has left her “emotionally overwhelmed,” according to friends. She was shocked to learn of allegations of domestic abuse by former White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter, with whom she had been having a relationship. Chief of Staff John Kelly laid the blame at Hicks’ feet for the White House’s handling of the scandal.
The White House originally said that they only became aware of the allegations against Porter when one of his ex-wives, Colbie Hoderness, submitted photographs of Porter’s alleged abuse to a news outlet last month. FBI Director Christopher Wray, in subsequent congressional testimony however, said that the FBI had notified the White House of the allegations as early as last year.
Porter had been operating under a partial security clearance the entire time he was employed by the White House. The abuse allegations were part of the reason Porter’s security clearance was being held up.
John Kelly said he took action to dismiss Porter immediately upon learning of the allegations, but the accounts of other White House staffers dispute those assertions. Kelly received criticism for his personal handling of the matter, as well as for the broader White House reaction to the scandal.
Since then, Kelly has instituted stricter security clearance policies that have seen top-level security clearances for many White House staffers, most notably presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner, revoked.
Harsh criticism from Kelly and as well as an attempt to relieve her of some of her responsibilities appeared to be more than Hicks could handle. According to sources, Kelly has told Hicks he wanted another strategic-communications adviser, Mercedes Schlapp, to take on more responsibilities in the press office. Schlapp is married to Matt Schlapp, who heads the America Conservative Union which runs CPAC. She is reportedly a leading candidate for Hicks’ job.
It was not an easy decision for Hicks to make, whatever her reasons are. Reports are that she was a “puddle of tears” during a regular communications meeting at the White House in the wake of her announcement.
According to people familiar with the matter, Hicks had been considering leaving the White House for months. She told colleagues that she had accomplished what she felt she could in one of the highest profile jobs in Washington. She has studiously avoided the limelight as well as the media attention that came with being a part of the White House, which only added to her mystique, and some would say, charm.