Hope Hicks, the now-former White House Communications Director and longtime Trump aide, announced her intention to resign as the calendar turned from Feb. to March. Her exit may be the most significant in a long line of them from the current administration.
Not only does Hicks’ resignation mean that the Trump White House has gone through five communications directors in just over a year, it also means that one of the president’s closest confidants has stepped out of his political circle.
Despite Hicks’ recent embroilment in controversy with her then-boyfriend and former White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter — as well as a congressional hearing where she testified she told “white lies” for President Trump — The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman tweeted that Hicks’ resignation had been in the works for a while.
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.
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) February 28, 2018
Even so, President Donald Trump was reportedly not happy with Hicks’ testimony the day before. He called her “stupid” for what she said on Capitol Hill before Congress, even though many throughout the Oval Office have considered her to be Trump’s “real daughter.”
Most political pundits agree — including Haberman in her longer column on the subject — that Trump may be in trouble without her. Hicks reportedly understood Trump more than almost anyone outside his family, and their loyalty-based relationship made her a vital member of his staff.
In the initial aftermath, it seems that the biggest repercussion from Hicks leaving may be how Trump copes with her absence. Even though Trump’s access to Twitter is often without third-party interference, Perry Bacon Jr. of FiveThirtyEight noted that finding someone like Hicks — who didn’t interfere with the president in that way — may prove difficult.
“He just has to, well, hope someone else will become his communications director even though that person will never really direct his communications,” Bacon Jr. concluded.
Could Hicks’ departure also mean a shift in Trump’s policy and thinking? Philip Elliott of Time suggested Hicks may have had a larger role in Trump’s agenda than anyone else who worked with him.
“She weighed in on foreign policy, domestic politics, media strategy and Cabinet management,” he said. “She had a greater ability to steer Trump than either of his chiefs of staff so far, and could read him in ways others on staff could not.
“Hicks was perhaps the only person outside the Trump family who could, from time to time, control the volatile president,” Elliot concluded.
What may not change is the White House’s consistent staffing turmoil. Given the high-turnover rate just one year into the president’s term, there may be more changes on the horizon in terms of policy and personnel.
Hicks was important to Trump. How important she was will only prove itself in the days to come as she stands on the outside looking in.