The White house has named its new Communications Director as 28-year old Hope Hicks. Trump calls her “Hopester” and she appeared in Forbes 30 Under 30. She has carefully stayed out of the spotlight but will now take the government’s primary spokesperson role.
The position was recently vacated by Anthony Scaramucci, who was fired 10 days into the job. Hicks has been promoted up from Director of Strategic Communications, a role created specifically for her. During the campaign she was Trump’s Press Secretary and was an instrumental figure in his interactions with the press at the time.
In a White House that is usually so loud and expressive on the public stage, Hicks stays quiet and out of the spotlight. She has not made any TV appearances, rarely taking interviews, and (notably for the Trump administration) never said anything that was either a lie or incorrect on the record. Even in her private life she avoids being out and socialising in Washington because she thinks she will be too much of a target.
Hicks is from Connecticut and was once a model. She then worked in PR. Ivanka Trump was one of her clients. In August 2014, she joined the Trump Organisation, to work with Ivanka on her fashion label. In January 2015, when Trump decided to run for President, he approached her with the role of Press Secretary.
Forbes described her a “one woman press team” during the campaign. She decided who spoke to Trump and the soon-to-be president would even dictate tweets to her. As Director of Strategic Communications her salary was set at $179,700 salary, equal to the salaries of Chief Strategist Steve Bannon and then-Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.
Her relationship with the President is said to be similar to that of Ivanka Trump. She is known for speaking candidly with Trump in private, voicing disagreements, but ultimately will loyally support him and defend his decisions. She has already had a top advisory role. When it came to light that Trump had asked FBI Director John Comey to shut down the investigation into Michael Flynn it was she who worked with the president on his response, not Sean Spicer (at the time the White House Press Secretary and Director of Communications).
The move from Spicer, a Washington figure, to Scaramucci, a New York businessman, could be seen as part of Trump’s attempt to “drain the swamp,” as he likes to put it. He is trying to replace those in the White House who have experience in Washington with people who are outsiders like him. Yet in this move it feels more like keeping it “all in the family.” Hicks has no experience in politics and her only qualifications for her roles seem to be that she knows Trump and inspires trust in him. It could be be a positive move. She could be better at conducting reliable press briefings after 7 months of press briefings that have been filled with incorrect or contradictory information. Or it could be that what we see press briefings that become more opaque, less informative and add to the secretiveness of the current White House.
Hicks can be seen on the far right corner.