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Hope Hicks Is Not the Victim People Think She Is—And More Revelations From New York’s Wild Profile

Michelle Ruiz
These are not the actions of a passive sidekick.

Among the many revelations in the wild new Hope Hicks profile that New York magazine ran: People definitely do not need to feel sorry for her. At 29, Hicks earned praise as the youngest (now-former) White House communications director in history. But the role also prompted some pity, as Hicks was interviewed by Robert Mueller in his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election (sparking concern that she may have plotted to obstruct justice) and in nine hours of questioning by the Senate Intelligence Committee. Some seemed to view Hicks as just a former fashion publicist, thrust into Trumpland against her will, in over her head, and paying the price for the big dogs’ mistakes.

Even before the new, Twitter-rocking profile, this was already a problematic and shortsighted assumption of Hicks—someone who, by all accounts, willingly conferred with President Trump and Mark Corallo, a former spokesman for Trump’s legal team, to mischaracterize Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with Russian operatives at Trump Tower. And, who, by her own admission, told “white lies” on occasion on the behalf of the president. These are not the actions of a passive sidekick with no agency, no matter her age or experience level. As New York’s Olivia Nuzzi writes, “She didn’t faint in a field of poppies and wake to find herself on Donald Trump’s campaign, 35,000 feet up and strapped in aboard a Boeing 757. . . . She had made her choices knowingly, even if she couldn’t know where they’d lead her.”

One of the darkest places serving President Trump may have led Hicks? To publicly shielding allegations of domestic violence against her ex-boyfriend and former Trump aide Rob Porter, which the White House ignored, continuing to gainfully employ Porter until the allegations were leaked last month. Chief of Staff John Kelly released a statement defending Porter—“Rob Porter is a man of true integrity and honor, 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.” But, as Nuzzi noted, “It was reported that his words had, in fact, been written by Hicks and, relatedly, that her involvement was seen internally as a problem: The president was frustrated with her, according to unnamed sources, and her judgment was called into question.” Five senior White House officials went on to tell New York that Kelly, not Hicks, dictated the statement. But as Nuzzi added: “Kelly allowed Hicks to be blamed and didn’t make an effort to correct the reporting.” For a White House obsessed with calling out and attempting to dispute fake news, it’s quite the claim to leave hanging.

And it’s just one of many eyebrow-raising revelations in New York’s profile, for which Hicks declined to speak on the record but still turns up plenty of juice, including that, before announcing that she would step down last month, Hicks (in a leather-bound, “Trump”-embossed notebook) drafted two lists: “reasons to resign as White House communications director immediately” and “reasons to wait to resign.”

“If she waited, she probably couldn’t avoid the impression that she was leaving because of a crisis, because there was always a crisis,” New York wrote. “If she’d resigned in August, they’d have said it was owed to Charlottesville. In December? Mueller or Roy Moore. January? Fire and Fury. From a public-relations perspective, there would never be a right moment to leave.”

Additional highlights include the fact that former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who allegedly had a brief, fiery relationship with Hicks, lives in the upper level of a Washington, D.C., townhouse coined by Politico the “Lewandowski Embassy,” sharing space with a lobbying group whose entryway is decorated with “lions, light pink roses, and a phrase from Isaiah 35, repeated three times: ‘The wilderness shall blossom as the rose’ ”; that Hicks baked Valentine’s Day cookies for the White House communications staff and with accompanying notes reading “Believe in Love”; and the observation that Trump had a “different,” more direct relationship with Hicks than with his children. (“Ivanka refers to him as ‘DJT’ just like the boys do, and Ivanka understands that her father is gonna be dead in 10 years,” a source quipped. Heartwarming!)

A Trump source is quoted as saying Hicks would never go the tell-all political memoir route; she’s too loyal to Trump. In fact, New York writes, “One of the only cases of Hicks speaking on the record was in an interview for the Forbes ‘30 Under 30’ list, in which she said her favorite song was ‘Friends in Low Places’ and her favorite emoji the ‘see-no-evil’ monkey.” As for her answer in regard to what she wanted to do with her life? Hicks answered: “Still deciding!”

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