Hope Hicks' damage control Mad Libs: Is Donald Trump's press secretary using a form letter to put out his fires?

Fill in the blank: What does the Trump camp "have no knowledge of" this time?

By Brendan Gauthier
Published October 20, 2016 8:20PM (EDT)
Hope Hicks, right, and Daniel Scavino Jr. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)
Hope Hicks, right, and Daniel Scavino Jr. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

Hope Hicks' job is as easy as her boss, Donald Trump, is subtle. From the onset, the Republican nominee has played himself while his dutiful 27-year-old Greenwich, Connecticut-raised press secretary does her best to clean up a mess before the next one occurs.

For campaign statements — as with the cover letters she'll have to start sending out on Nov. 9 — sometimes a rubric is essential to ease an overwhelming workload. With only slight modifications, Hicks' form letter for the campaign's screwups has been as follows:

"The campaign had no knowledge of [Latest Screwup] and strongly condemns these views."

Here's a timeline:

March 2, 2016: According to Politico, after Donald Trump Jr. gave a radio interview that featured virulent white supremacist James Edwards, Hicks said, "The campaign had no knowledge of [Edwards'] personal views and strongly condemns them."

(Bonus: Oct. 6, 2016: According to CNN, addressing Eric Trump's interview with "Liberty Roundtable," a program syndicated by the same company that broadcasts virulent white supremacist James Edwards' "The Political Cesspool," Hicks said, "As you know, we had no knowledge of James Edwards' participation and strongly rebuked him. . . . We would never associate with any program that was even wrongly perceived to be affiliated with a message of hate.")

March 11, 2016:   The Associated Press reported Hicks said, in response to assault allegations against former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski: "As one of dozens of individuals present as Mr. Trump exited the press conference I did not witness any encounter. In addition to our staff, which had no knowledge of said situation, not a single camera or reporter of more than 100 in attendance captured the alleged incident."

Of course, the incident had indeed been caught on CCTV. Lewandowski was subsequently charged with misdemeanor battery later that month, but the state declined to pursue the case.

April 4, 2016: The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel cited an email sent by Hicks, when residents of Madison, Wisconsin, started complaining that a white supremacist group was robocalling houses in support of Trump: "We have no knowledge of this and strongly condemn these views."

Wednesday: Hicks said in a statement quoted by The New York Times, after the Anti-Defamation League correlated a sharp increase in anti-Semitic harassment of journalists with the rise of Trump's candidacy: "We have no knowledge of this activity and strongly condemn any commentary that is anti-Semitic."

Correction: This story has been corrected to reflect that, on March 2, Donald Trump Jr. wasn't interviewed by virulent white supremacist James Edwards. Trump was merely on a radio program where virulent white supremacist James Edwards was invited on to ask Trump Jr. questions. The story also reflects that Eric Trump didn't appear on virulent white supremacist James Edwards' anti-Semitic "Cesspool" — but rather was on a company that syndicates virulent white supremacist James Edwards' anti-Semitic "Cesspool," and sometimes invites the white supremacist on other radio programs.

Brendan Gauthier

Brendan Gauthier is a freelance writer.

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