President Donald Trump met with longtime adviser and confidant Hope Hicks aboard Air Force One last week. It was the first time Hicks had met with the President since she resigned her post in February.
Hicks boarded the President’s plane at an airport in Morristown, New Jersey, Saturday, prior to President Trump’s leaving for a campaign rally near Columbus, Ohio, in support of a Republican Congressional candidate.
President Trump is currently on vacation at the Trump Bedminster Golf resort near Morristown.
The meeting is notable as Hicks continues to be a focus of the investigation run by special counsel Robert Mueller into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Hicks, who had been serving as the White House Communications Director, abruptly announced her resignation in February. She told colleagues at the time that she had accomplished what she felt she could in one of the highest profile jobs in Washington.
Hicks is a longtime personal aide 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 President Trump’s presidential campaign in 2015. She became one of the most trusted Trump aides in the course of her time there.
“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.”
“Hope is outstanding and has done great work for the last three years,” the President said in the wake of her resignation. “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.”
But Hicks’ role in the campaign, as well as the White House, had become the subject of scrutiny for Mueller. Specifically, Mueller had become interested in a meeting aboard Air Force One last year in which Hicks disagreed with the Trump legal team’s spokesman about revealing the true nature of a meeting the President’s son, Donald Trump Jr., had with Russians in June 2016 at Trump Tower.
Hicks allegedly told that spokesman, Mark Corallo, revealing the true purpose of the meeting – gaining incriminating evidence on Hillary Clinton – wasn’t necessary because emails written by Trump Jr. accepting and planning the meeting would “never get out,” implying they could be withheld from prosecutors. Corallo resigned his position shortly after the incident, feeling those events likely constituted obstruction of justice.
An attorney for Hicks has vigorously denied the account however. “She never said that,” attorney Robert P. Trout said earlier this month. “And the idea that Hope Hicks ever suggested that emails or other documents would be concealed or destroyed is completely false.”
She was also 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 breathless media coverage left her “emotionally overwhelmed,” according to friends.
It was not an easy decision for Hicks to make according to people familiar with her thought process. According to a White House source she had also racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees defending herself.
Reports are that she was a “puddle of tears” during a regular communications meeting at the White House in the wake of her announcement.
Hicks studiously avoided the limelight as well as the media attention that came with being a high-profile member of the White House, which only added to her mystique, and some would say, charm. The White House has not commented on the President meeting with her.
Photo by The White House