On Thursday, it was announced 29-year-old White House Communications Director Hope Hicks would resign.
Known for being one of Trump’s longest-serving aides with the highly sought-after ear and trust of the President, Hicks’ resigning comes as a relative surprise in a White House plagued by staff turnover.
Curiously, her resigning also comes a day after she answered eight hours worth of questions in her House Intelligence Committee testimony as part of the panel’s Russia investigation. Reports surfaced after the hearing that Hicks admitted telling “white lies” for the Donald Trump, though she insisted she had not lied about matters regarding the Russia investigation.
Writing on Twitter, New York Times White House corespondent Maggie Haberman, who broke the story, says Hicks’ resignation has nothing to do with her Russia hearing yesterday.
“Hope Hicks departure is NOT about yesterday’s hearing, per multiple sources. She had planned it before, had been thinking about it for months. She had informed a very small number of people prior to Hill hearing that she planned to leave.”
She went on to say Hicks “does not even have a departure date” and is not “being hustled out of the building”.
“She told colleagues she felt like she had done all she could do in the job. She had never liked Washington and never become part of its ecosystem.”
The news comes as Hicks’ name begun to make news of its own in recent weeks, as the the youngest Communications Director in US political history accidentally became the story.
For Hicks, quotes are rare, interviews are rarer still, and her social media presence is non-existent. Most Americans have never even heard her voice.
To understand why Hicks’ exit is such a blow for Trump, you must first understand the presence she demanded under Trump’s leadership.
In a shouty, Tweet-happy White House, Hicks is the quiet, considered achiever, the right-hand more trusted than any other to deliver the bad news stories to President Trump. (As former campaign adviser, Jason Miller, once said, “We all had to do it. She was just better at it.”)
Yet this month, Hicks found herself in one of the most uncomfortable places a media-shy Presidential staffer could possibly be: the headlines of one of those bad news stories.
The former model and PR executive came embroiled in allegations made against Rob Porter, the senior Trump aide who resigned last Wednesday after his two ex wives accused him of domestic violence.
Both women – Colbie Holderness and Jennifer Willoughby – alleged via The Daily Mail that the 40-year-old had been verbally, emotionally and physically abusive during the course of their marriages.
Yet in spite of the detailed claims, the White House stood by their man. In accordance with Porter’s denials, a supportive statement was issued in the name of Chief of Staff John Kelly: “Rob Porter is a man of true integrity and honour, and I can’t say enough good things about him. He is a friend, a confidant, and a trusted professional. I am proud to serve alongside him.”
So where does Hope Hicks come in? Well, 1. She helped craft that unbelievable statement in Porter’s defence; 2. She was dating him at the time. (After the story broke, it was soon reported they split.)