The circumstances surrounding the departure of the 29-year-old are not entirely clear but came just a day after she spent nine hours in a closed hearing of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee on its investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.
Among the issues Hicks declined to discuss with the House panel was her part in drafting a statement in July 2017 misrepresenting a July 2016 meeting at Trump Tower that included the president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr, other Trump associates and Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer.
Trump Jr said initially the meeting was about adoptions, but said later that Veselnitskaya had promised damaging information about his father’s election campaign opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said Hicks’ decision to leave was not related to her appearance before the panel, where lawmakers said she declined to answer questions about the administration and admitted she told “white lies” for Trump, reports Reuters.
Hicks has been a rock for Trump during all of the many ups and downs of his presidency and her loss leaves him ever-more isolated.
WHO IS HOPE HICKS?
- The 29-year-old had so far managed to keep a relatively low profile in an administration filled with larger-than-life characters mired in intrigue.
- Hicks’ background is in the PR world and she joined The Trump Organisation full-time in 2014 helping Ivanka Trump expand her fashion label.
- In 2015 Trump chose her to be press secretary for his election campaign despite having no experience in politics of political campaigns.
- During the campaign one of her major roles was dictating Trump’s tweets.
- In August of last year she was made White House Director of Communications, replacing the PR disaster that was Anthony “The Mooch” Scaramucci”.
The news is a massive blow to the President and means barely anyone that isn’t related by blood or marriage remains from the administration he formed when he took office a little over one year ago.
Hicks did more than steer messaging. She was a constant presence in Trump’s orbit, sitting in on interviews with reporters and quietly steering press-related policy while maintaining a behind-the-scenes, low-but-glamorous-profile.
She managed in many ways to stay above the fray of staff backbiting and palace intrigue that has characterised the Trump White House, but her proximity to the president has made her a central figure in some of its more dramatic moments.
His first chief of staff, Reince Priebus, stepped down last summer, and his chief strategist, Steve Bannon was fired. Four people, including Hicks and former press secretary Sean Spicer, who also resigned, have held the communications director mantle.
And that’s just the main headliners...
Lawmakers said Hicks, Trump’s spokeswoman during the 2016 election campaign, did answer House panel questions on Tuesday about her time with the campaign, and the transition months between the November election and the January 2017 inauguration.
Hicks’ exact departure was unclear but is expected to be sometime over the next few weeks.
Hicks was caught up in a controversy surrounding former White House staff secretary Rob Porter, another close Trump aide, whom Hicks had been dating. She worked to defend him when charges of domestic abuse against his two former wives emerged. Porter was ultimately forced to resign.
An aide said she had approached the president and told him she wanted to leave so she could start exploring opportunities outside of the White House.
Robert Trout, a lawyer for Hicks who has represented her in the Russia investigation, declined comment.
Hicks took over as communications director in September after the difficult, 11-day tenure of Anthony Scaramucci, who was fired. She is credited behind the scenes for stabilising the communications operation.
“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,” Trump said in a statement released by the White House.
“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.”
Hicks said in her own statement that “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.”