Pres­i­dent’s favourite aide re­turns to help re-elec­tion

The Guardian - - World - Joanna Wal­ters and Ed­ward Hel­more

Hope Hicks, one of Don­ald Trump’s most trusted and long­est-serv­ing aides, is re­turn­ing to the White House as his re-elec­tion cam­paign moves into high gear. Hicks will be serv­ing as ad­viser to the pres­i­dent, work­ing with Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kush­ner.

The 31-year-old for­mer model was White House com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor be­fore she de­parted in Oc­to­ber 2018 to be­come an ex­ec­u­tive vi­cepres­i­dent and chief com­mu­ni­ca­tions of­fi­cer for Fox, the com­pany set up to run Fox News, Fox Sports and Fox’s broad­cast net­works.

Ear­lier that year, while the in­ves­ti­ga­tion was un­der way into al­le­ga­tions that Trump’s 2016 elec­tion cam­paign had col­luded with Rus­sia to help his cause, Hicks ac­knowl­edged to a US con­gres­sional com­mit­tee that she had told “white lies” for Trump.

But she in­sisted she had not lied about any­thing rel­e­vant to the in­quiry, ac­cord­ing to those present for her nine-hour, closed-door tes­ti­mony.

She re­fused to talk about her time at the White House, only about work­ing for Trump be­fore his elec­tion, de­spite ques­tions about any in­volve­ment in draft­ing of un­true state­ments about Rus­sian con­tacts, while con­sult­ing the pres­i­dent on­board Air Force One.

Un­like so many for­mer se­nior mem­bers of the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion who have ei­ther been fired or other­wise ac­ri­mo­niously ousted, Hicks not only left with warm trib­utes from Trump, but now she is com­ing back.

Through­out Trump’s 2016 cam­paign and re­lent­lessly chaotic early pres­i­dency, she was a con­stant pres­ence at his side.

When Hicks be­came White House com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor she worked from a tiny of­fice just out­side the Oval Of­fice as a gate­keeper and con­stant sound­ing board for the pres­i­dent.

She later be­came em­broiled in an­other scan­dal at the White House.

Her judg­ment was called into ques­tion in 2018 over Rob Porter, a se­nior Trump aide ac­cused of phys­i­cally abus­ing two ex-wives – and whom Hicks had re­port­edly been dat­ing.

Pub­licly, Trump sup­ported Hicks,

say­ing: “Hope is ab­so­lutely fan­tas­tic. She was with the cam­paign from the be­gin­ning, and I could not ask for any­thing more. Hope is smart, very tal­ented and re­spected by all.”

But in pri­vate, he is be­lieved to have is­sued rare crit­i­cism of a woman who by some es­ti­mates was the most in­flu­en­tial fig­ure in the ad­min­is­tra­tion af­ter Trump and his im­me­di­ate fam­ily.

At is­sue was whether Hicks, who was also com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor in the cam­paign, re­laxed her judg­ment ow­ing to her re­la­tion­ship with Porter.

White House of­fi­cials said Hicks knew that a for­mer girl­friend of Porter’s had in­formed aides that both of Porter’s ex-wives had said he was vi­o­lent. Hicks con­tin­ued to see him and did not tell the pres­i­dent. Porter de­nied the al­le­ga­tions against him.

De­spite these storms, Trump was ef­fu­sive about Hicks when she left, kiss­ing her cheek out­side the Oval Of­fice and wish­ing her well. Now one of his all-time favourite op­er­a­tives is back in the in­ner cir­cle.

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