One of President Donald Trump’s longest-serving aides and closest confidantes is returning to the White House after leaving in 2018.
Hope Hicks, the president’s former communications director who served an outsize role in the White House and spent many hours a day in the Oval Office, will rejoin the administration, officials said Thursday.
She will work for Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and political adviser, the White House said, on political affairs and other “strategic” matters. She will not be part of the White House communications shop.
“There is no one more devoted to implementing President Trump’s agenda than Hope Hicks. We are excited to have her back on the team,” Kushner said.
Hicks left the White House to become a senior executive at New Fox in California and had embraced a different life, people close to her said. She wrestled with the whether to return to Washington for weeks, trying to decide if she wanted to leave a lucrative salary and a quieter life to return to the fray, according to people who discussed the matter with her and spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the private conversations. She was repeatedly courted by Kushner and the president who argued to Hicks that they needed her for the reelection, a person with knowledge of the discussions said.
Also returning to the White House is Trump’s former personal assistant John McEntee, who will serve as head of presidential personnel, according to a senior administration official.
McEntee lost his White House job in March 2018 because an investigation found he was a frequent gambler whose habit posed a security risk, two people familiar with his departure said at the time.
A background investigation found that McEntee bet tens of thousands of dollars at a time, making him unsuitable for a sensitive position close to the president, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. There was no indication his gambling was illegal, but there was concern that he could be vulnerable to outside influence, the person said.
McEntee will replace Sean Doocey, who some aides, including deputy chief of staff Emma Doyle, tried to keep from losing his job. But Trump is infuriated over what he believes are so many people around him who are not loyal, and that some 2016 campaign aides have not been able to get jobs, that he replaced Doocey with McEntee, according to two administration officials.
Both McEntee and Hicks were early members of the Trump campaign team in 2015.
Hicks began working for Trump before he announced his candidacy and had been a trusted confidante for three years, shaping his image and counseling him on nearly all matters, from the substantive to the trivial. The president would regularly yell for Hicks to come into the Oval Office.
Hicks exerted extraordinary influence in Washington and the president treated her almost as a surrogate daughter even as other aides said she knew little about policy.
But she left the administration in 2018 after she drew scrutiny from an investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller III, and her personal relationship with Rob Porter, who left his job as White House staff secretary after the Daily Mail reported that his former wives accused him of abuse.
Hicks had admitted to a House committee that she told “white lies” on the president’s behalf, and that she was involved in crafting a misleading statement on Air Force One about a meeting between Trump family members and Russians in Trump Tower.
Hicks will return to a much different White House than the one she left – one where only a few campaign aides remain, including Dan Scavino, the president’s social media manager and senior adviser, and Kellyanne Conway, who serves as counselor to the president.
(c) 2020, The Washington Post · Josh Dawsey