White House Communications Director Hope Hicks, one of President Trump’s closest and longest-serving aides, is resigning, she announced Wednesday. The news was first reported by The New York Times.
The departure comes as a surprise. While there has been a great deal of turnover at the White House, and in the communications director’s job in particular, Hicks had not been among the most anticipated departures. The reasons for her departure are unclear, although her decision to announce it the day after bruising testimony to the House Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, is sure to raise eyebrows. The Times said Hicks had been considering an exit for some time, and knew there was no easy time to leave.
“Hope is outstanding and has done great work for the last three years,” Trump said in a statement. “She is as smart and thoughtful as they come, a truly great person. 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.”
Her departure leaves Trump without one of his closest aides at a perilous time in his presidency, a peril Hicks is herself wrapped up in. Special Counsel Robert Mueller is said to be focused on the White House’s reaction to news of a June 2016 Trump Tower meeting that took place after Donald Trump Jr. was promised derogatory information on Hillary Clinton from Russian sources. The initial White House response, which Hicks reportedly was integral to, denied the true purpose of the meeting. During Hicks’s testimony to the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, she acknowledged telling “white lies” in the conduct of her job.