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Hope Hicks resigns: Former White House communications director was Donald Trump's glamourous shield and validator

Hope Hicks, one of Donald Trump's longest-serving aides and one of his most trusted confidante, on Wednesday announced her resignation in the latest of a string of departures from the embattled White House. The 29-year-old Hicks, who occupied the desk closest to the Oval Office in the West Wing, has been a central participant in or witness to nearly every milestone and controversy of the Trump campaign and White House. She began her White House tenure as director of strategic communications — a title that only partly captured her more expansive role as the president's gatekeeper to the press. Here is all you need to know about one of Trump's most trusted aides.

Trump's glamorous shield and validator

According to Associated Press, Hicks had a seemingly untouchable role in the West Wing, often viewed more as a surrogate daughter than a staffer. Perhaps most importantly, she served as Trump's glamorous shield and validator, always ready to provide "Mr Trump" with a smiling dose of positive reinforcement, and controlling reporters' access. She was the fourth person to occupy the position since the president was sworn in, as the Trump White House has set modern records for staff turnover.

File image of Hope Hicks. Reuters

File image of Hope Hicks. Reuters

While she cut a discreet figure in the White House—refusing all interviews—the former advisor to Ivanka Trump was known around the West Wing for her close relationship with the president's family and as a keen defender of his image. She was well known to have the ear of the president, who never publicly voiced even the slightest criticism of her.

"There are no words to adequately express my gratitude to President Trump," Hicks said in a statement on her departure while Trump paid tribute to Hicks' "outstanding" contribution over the past three years, calling her "as smart and thoughtful as they come, a truly great person."

Anthony Scaramucci, whom Hicks had succeeded, have revealed to Fox News that she was one of the least malicious people he had ever met.

Former Ralph Lauren model

According to People Politics, born in 1988, Hicks grew up in New York City suburb of Greenwich. A co­-captain of the lacrosse team at Greenwich High School, Hicks modelled on a Ralph Lauren campaign before venturing into public relations. Following her graduation from Southern Methodist University in 2010, Hicks worked for Hiltzik Strategies, a PR firm, in 2012. She worked under Democratic PR operative Matthew Hiltzik, who had worked for both Hillary Clinton and film producer Harvey Weinstein. During at the firm, Hicks was assigned to work for one of Hiltzik’s clients, Ivanka Trump. Ivanka was planning on expanding her fashion line and that is when Hicks took up the work for modelling for her.

In October 2014, Trump hired Hicks for in-house work in the Trump Organization and three months later called her for a job within his campaign. A year later, in January 2015, Hicks was working with Ivanka when she received a call from Trump to see him in his office.

Hicks' 'white lies'

Hicks' resignation announcement came a day after she testified before a Congressional intelligence committee about the Russia election meddling investigation. She reportedly told lawmakers she had told "white lies" for Trump in the course of her duties, but never over the Russia probe. The White House said Hicks had informed Trump she wished to leave in order to explore other opportunities. Trump's spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said no timeline had been set for her departure, adding that her exit was not linked to her testimony to Congress.

Hicks' departure follows that of a succession of senior administration figures: from national security advisor Michael Flynn to Reince Priebus as chief of staff, Sean Spicer as press secretary and Steve Bannon as the president's chief strategist.

According to BBC, Hicks was probably waiting for the right time and this was planned for a long time. As a witness to many of the controversies surrounding the Trump campaign and presidency, Hicks knew it was not long before her name would be in the headlines again.

Under the spotlight

As the White House communications director, she was responsible for shaping the administration's message, but Hicks was far less visible to the public than the press secretary Sanders, and before her Sean Spicer.

Hicks was thrust into the spotlight in early February when another top Trump aide with whom she had become romantically involved was accused of domestic abuse by an ex-wife. Former White House staff secretary Rob Porter —who denies the claims—resigned following the allegations. Hicks had helped craft the official response to the scandal, despite her personal involvement with Porter.

Sanders denied any link between Hicks' decision to leave, and her questioning Tuesday by a congressional panel probing Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. During her appearance before the House Intelligence Committee, Trump's communications director had stuck to answering pre-approved questions and refused to answer many of the other questions put to her.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Mar 01, 2018 17:59 PM

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