White House communications director Hope Hicks to resign

Long-term adviser’s exit latest high-profile departure from Trump administration

White House communications director Hope Hicks: “I wish the President and his administration the very best.” Photograph: Reuters

White House communications director Hope Hicks: “I wish the President and his administration the very best.” Photograph: Reuters

 

White House communications director Hope Hicks is to resign in the coming weeks. Her imminent departure will be the latest high-profile departure from the White House.

Ms Hicks, a long-term advisor to US president Trump, worked with the former businessman during his presidential campaign, taking up a senior advisory role in the West Wing upon his election.

The 29 year-old assumed the role of communications director after the departure of Sean Spicer as White House Press Secretary.

Ms Hicks said: “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.”

President Trump said that he “totally understands” her reasons for departing, suggesting that she was leaving to pursue other opportunities. “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,” he said. “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.”

The development comes a day after Ms Hicks testified in Congress for nine hours as part of the ongoing Russia investigation. Several media outlets reported that Ms Hicks refused to answer many of the Congress members’ questions during the closed session on Tuesday. She is also reported to have told the House Intelligence Committee that she had been required to tell “white lies” on behalf of the US president. But she insisted that she had not lied about matters material to the investigations into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible links to Trump associates.

Ms Hicks was also interviewed by special counsel Robert Mueller’s team as part of the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the US presidential election in 2016 and possible collusion between the Trump campaign team and Russia.

The former model was reportedly in a romantic relationship with Rob Porter, the White House aide who was forced to resign three weeks ago amid allegations of domestic abuse. Ms Hicks, along with chief of staff John Kelly, initially backed Mr Porter before photographic evidence emerged that appeared to prove the alleged abuse by Mr Porter of his ex-wife.

The departure of Ms Hicks is the latest personnel change to beset the White House which has seen several changes in staffing over the past year. Her resignation is also likely to be a personal blow to Mr Trump and follows confirmation that his son-in-law Jared Kushner has been denied top level security clearance, depriving him of access to the president’s daily intelligence briefings.

Mr Kushner had taken a lead role in the Middle East peace process, as well as serving as a conduit between the administration and countries such as Saudi Arabia and China. Mr Kelly’s decision means he will no longer have access to top classified material, significantly inhibiting his ability to shape policy.

Mr Kelly also praised Ms Hicks “contribution to the White House in a statement acknowledging her departure”.

“When I became chief of staff, I quickly realized what so many have learned about Hope – she is strategic, poised and wise beyond her years. She became a trusted adviser and counsellor and did a tremendous job overseeing the communications for the president’s agenda including the passage of historic tax reform. She has served her country with great distinction. To say that she will be missed, is an understatement,” he added.