Hope Hicks Becomes Latest White House Staffer To Resign
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
For the fourth time since taking office, President Trump is going to be naming a new communications director. Yesterday, the White House confirmed that Hope Hicks will be stepping down from that post. She has been the longest-serving communications director under the Trump administration so far, following Anthony Scaramucci's infamous 10-day stint, and Sean Spicer and Mike Dubke before him. Hope Hicks had also been with the Trump campaign from the start, a real loyalist, something then-President-elect Trump thanked her for at a December 2016 rally in Alabama.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: You know, she's a little shy, but that's OK because she is really, really talented. Hope, say a couple of words.
GREENE: But Hope Hicks did not often say that many words. She managed to stay largely out of the spotlight until recently. So what do we know about what led to her resignation? Let's ask NPR's Domenico Montanaro, who's here.
DOMENICO MONTANARO, BYLINE: Hey there, David.
GREENE: So why's she stepping down?
MONTANARO: Well, the White House says she's leaving to, quote, "pursue other opportunities," which usually means...
GREENE: Wait, that's language that we hear often before when people leave.
MONTANARO: Right, and doesn't have another job quite yet. But it's been a chaotic and stressful year for everyone involved in the Trump White House. This also came a day after Hicks, you know, testified before the House intelligence committee, in which she said that she had told white lies for the president. And CNN reports...
GREENE: Stunning admission for a communications director of the White House.
MONTANARO: Oh, yeah. I mean, that's not something that you would normally want your communications director to say. And CNN reports that Trump berated Hicks after the testimony and asked her, quote, "how she could be so stupid." And she reportedly has been contemplating leaving for several months - remarkable, since she's only been on the job several months.
MONTANARO: But apparently, Trump's confrontation was it for Hicks, who's just 29 and never worked in politics before.
GREENE: Still a fairly new White House - I mean, a little more than a year in, there's been a lot of departures, it seems like. Does this one stand out somehow?
MONTANARO: Look, there have been some 50 people who have resigned, quit or been fired from the White House as staffers, which is a huge turnover. I mean, having four communications directors in a year is really stunning. But this does stand out because it really was a surprise. No one saw this coming. You could write the story for almost anyone in the Trump administration leaving, but not Hope Hicks. No one's been closer to this president. Really, outside the family, she's sort of the last of the loyalists. And the timing couldn't look worse. You know, after her testimony before the House intelligence committee, it's certainly, you know, not difficult to draw a line between that dot and this one.
GREENE: Well, I mean, when we talk about job security in this administration, a lot of people wondering about the future of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, another early member of the Trump team - he's again become a target of the president on Twitter. I mean, it's not often, if ever, you see a president of the United States going after his own attorney general.
MONTANARO: No. And he's done it a lot. He, you know, repeatedly done it with Jeff Sessions. He has thought that Jeff Sessions should protect him more, be more of a wingman. And he's upset because Sessions has referred the FISA court secret investigation into - was related to the Russia investigation - that he's referred it to the inspector general. Trump thinks that it should go through Justice Department lawyers. And we saw Sessions out last night with Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general - apparent show of solidarity after Trump reportedly called him Mr. Magoo...
MONTANARO: ...Last night. So just a total picture of chaos inside the Trump administration right now.
GREENE: NPR's Domenico Montanaro joining us this morning. Domenico, thanks, as always.
MONTANARO: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.