- Carlos Barria/Reuters
- The White House communications director, Hope Hicks, has come under fire in recent weeks.
- Since the early days of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, Hicks has largely stayed out of the headlines.
- But recent reports have put her at the center of a pair of major White House controversies.
The White House communications director, Hope Hicks, has come under fire as she emerges at the center of a pair of major news stories – the kinds she had eluded in her nearly three years at the top levels of President Donald Trump’s orbit.
Late last month, The New York Times reported that Mark Corallo, a former spokesman for the president’s legal team, planned to tell Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Russia’s election interference, about a previously undisclosed phone call involving Trump and Hicks.
Corallo planned to say that in the call to Trump, Hicks said emails that showed that Donald Trump Jr. sought political dirt on the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, would “never get out,” The Times reported.
The call left Corallo concerned, people with knowledge of Mueller’s request to him told The Times, but Hicks’ lawyer strongly denied the allegations to the newspaper.
Mueller’s team interviewed Hicks in December.
Hicks has somewhat famously kept a low profile as one of Trump’s closest confidants and longest-standing political aides in a cutthroat environment in which many close advisers frequently speak with members of the media to air grievances.
But on Wednesday, she popped up again in another scandalous news story.
CNN reported that Hicks helped craft the administration’s response to allegations of physical and emotional abuse against Rob Porter, who resigned as the White House staff secretary Wednesday. Multiple outlets have reported that Hicks is dating Porter.
One of Porter’s former wives provided the Daily Mail photos of a black eye she said Porter gave her, while the other provided a photo of a protective order she filed against Porter in 2010.
Porter has strongly denied the allegations.
Did Hicks craft John Kelly’s response?
In an initial statement about Porter, the White House chief of staff, John Kelly, called him a “man of true integrity and honor” whom he “can’t say enough good things about.”
“He is a friend, a confidante, and a trusted professional,” he continued. “I am proud to serve alongside him.”
The statement, which the CNN report said Hicks helped craft, remained as Kelly’s comments on the matter for hours after the jarring photos were disclosed and Porter announced his resignation.
Kelly issued a second statement late Wednesday, saying he was “shocked” by the “new allegations” against Porter.
“There is no place for domestic violence in our society,” Kelly said. “I stand by my previous comments of the Rob Porter that I have come to know since becoming chief of staff, and believe every individual deserves the right to defend their reputation. I accepted his resignation earlier today, and will ensure a swift and orderly transition.”
Philippe Reines, a former top aide to Clinton, said after the CNN report that Hicks was involved with Kelly’s first statement that she “escapes warranted scrutiny.”
Harold Holt can’t be fired. There is no Harold Holt. But if Harold felt familiar and unacceptable here’s why:
Harold Holt is Hope Hicks.
But when her name isn’t changed to a fictional dishonest character in place of the real dishonest Hope Hicks she escapes warranted scrutiny. https://t.co/wlVWmwDNaB
— Philippe Reines (@PhilippeReines) February 8, 2018
Meanwhile, Alyssa Mastromonaco, a former aide to President Barack Obama, ratcheted up her criticism of Hicks, going as far to suggest that her reported involvement in the statement made her a “complicit abuse denier.”
no they don’t. and John Kelly – wow. and hope hicks – bye girl, v-card revoked bc you are a #complicit abuse denier. you know better even if you don’t act better which is “sad!” or well, tragic….. https://t.co/Y82kecAnWp
— alyssa mastromonaco (@AlyssaMastro44) February 8, 2018