Hope leaves the White House

 Hope leaves the White House
Hope Hicks, the White House Director of Strategic Communications and President Donald Trump’s longest serving aide has resigned from her position..

Hope Hicks, the White House Director of Strategic Communications and President Donald Trump’s longest serving aide has resigned from her position.

Her resignation comes a day after she had to testify in front of policy makers in connection to the role played by the Kremlin in aiding the Trump campaign during the Presidential elections. She acknowledged that she has told “white lies” on behalf of the US President.

Background

US President Donald Trump is a polarizing figure in world politics. He has found himself being criticized for his actions and his statements in the past. He has been accused of sexism, misogyny, racism and more. Business leaders like Elon Musk have left councils within the administration due to statements made by Trump. His administration has also been criticized for being chaotic and controversial. Key members of the administration have left the administration since it came together in 2017. Some of the people who left or were dismissed include Steve Bannon, former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, acting Attorney General Sally Yates, former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, Anthony Scaramucci, former Press Secretary Sean Spicer and more.

Hope Hicks was Trump's longest-serving political aide. She served as the White House Director of Strategic Communications, a role created for her. She previously served as the press secretary and early communications director for Trump's 2016 presidential campaign. Prior to that, she was an employee of The Trump Organization and worked in Public Relations.

Russia investigation

US intelligence agencies believe that Russia had interfered in the US presidential elections. In May 2017, the Department of Justice (DoJ) appointed Robert Mueller as a special counsel to oversee the investigation into the Russian interference and related matters. He is also investigating whether members of the Trump campaign colluded with Russia during the elections.

Analysis

Even though she was the White House Director of Strategic Communications, Hope Hicks has kept a low profile. She rarely gave interviews and did not have any presence on social media. However, it has been reported that within the White House, she was extremely close to the President and often had direct contact with him on a daily basis.

In the past few months, she had come under additional scrutiny. It was first reported that she was part of a conversation regarding emails Donald Trump Jr. exchanged with a person with Kremlin links during the campaign. She is alleged to have stated that the incriminating emails in question would not ever come to light (the emails were later reported by the New York Times and published by Trump Jr. himself). She was also highly criticized for the role she played in the chain of events that eventually led to the dismissal of White House aide Rob Porter. She was reportedly in a relationship with him when allegations of him having abused his previous wives came to light.  Despite a conflict of interest, she drafted a statement on behalf of General John Kelly (the current Chief of Staff) where Porter was highly praised. This led to one of the biggest scandals emerging from the White House and Porter being fired. At the time, the White House released a statement that the President still trusted the counsel and the work done by Hicks.

Weeks later Hope Hicks had to testify in front of a House intelligence panel with regards to the ongoing investigation about the alleged Russian interference in the US Presidential race. During the testimony, she admitted that she had told “white lies” on behalf of Donald Trump. Republican Tom Rooney of Florida, a member of the intelligence panel who was in the interview, said Hicks’ answer was completely unrelated to the Russia investigation. “When specifically asked whether or not she was instructed to lie by the president, or the candidate, with regard to Russia, the investigation or our investigation, the answer to that question was no,” Rooney said. “And that’s our jurisdiction. Not whether or not he asked her to cancel a meeting for him, or something like that.”

A day after the testimony, Hicks announced that she would be resigning from the position. Current Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said that Hicks’ resignation was not related to the testimony or her the investigation. Meanwhile, President Trump called her a “great person.” “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.” It is presently unclear when Hicks will end her tenure, but it is expected to be over in a few weeks. Her departure also coincides with Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner losing his security clearance.

It has also been reported that she is under Mueller’s scanner in the special counsel investigation regarding Russia and the role it allegedly played in helping Trump get elected.

Assessment

Our assessment is that with Hicks’ departure, Trump has lost his longest serving and most trusted aide. His inner circle continues to grow smaller at a period when the special counsel investigation is expanding its scope. If Hope Hicks is indicted, it would be yet another massive blow to the Trump presidency. 

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