Hope Hicks (AP/J. Scott Applewhite)

Hope Hicks left behind a White House wrapped in jealously, vendetta and turmoil

A new report on Hope Hicks' departure offers new information about the White House state of affairs


Charlie May
March 19, 2018 3:34PM (UTC)

There is much to be learned in a new profile of departing White House Communications Director Hope Hicks — but the piece may offer as much insight into President Donald Trump as it does into his right-hand woman.

New York Magazine's Olivia Nuzzi spoke with more than 30 current and former White House officials and painted a picture of an administration deeply entangled in complex relationships, personal vendettas and a love triangle.

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The White House has continued to appear as if it's in a perpetual state of chaos, and Hicks' departure will only make it worse. The profile gave an intriguing look at the oddities of Trump's personality, his never-quenched thirst for loyalty and his issues with trusting others. Here are some noteworthy takeaways.

1) Rarely puts in even the most basic effort and is forgetting a lot of things — and also doesn't trust men

She was never in it for the politics. Instead, Hope Hicks truly believed in Trump, according to the piece. Likewise, he trusted her more than almost anyone else — and far more than his closest male associates.

New York Magazine elaborated:

Many requests were mundane. “He doesn’t write anything down,” one source close to the White House told me. “He doesn’t type, he dictates. ‘Take this down, take this down: Trump: richest man on Earth.’ ” A second source who meets regularly with the president told me that Hicks acted almost as an embodiment of the faculties Trump lacked — like memory. “He’ll be talking, and then right in the middle he’ll be like, ‘Hope, what was that … thing?’ ” When the name of a senator or congressman or journalist came up, Trump would prompt Hicks to provide a history of their interactions, asking, “Do we like him?” “And she f**king remembers!” (Trump has said his own memory is “one of the greatest memories of all time.”) “She’s the only person he trusts,” the second source continued. “He doesn’t trust any men and never has. He doesn’t like men, you see.

He has no male friends. I was just with one of them the other day, someone who’s described as one of his closest friends, and he doesn’t know him very well. But a small number of women, including his longtime assistant back in New York, he really listens to them — especially if he’s not banging them. Because, like a lot of men but more so, Trump really does compartmentalize the sex and the emotional part."

Hicks had come close to leaving the Trump administration on two occasions, last August, and once more last December, before she decided that leaving Washington was the only option she could imagine.

2) Hicks couldn't find a calm time in the White House when she could resign

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New York Magazine explained:

Hicks took out one of her notebooks, black leather with the Trump name embossed in gold on the front. She’d prayed a lot over the weekend, and also written two lists in the same bubbly print that had recently been photographed on a note card in Trump’s hand, reminding him to tell survivors of a school shooting, among other things, “I hear you.” One list contained reasons to resign as White House communications director immediately; the other, reasons to wait to resign. Not resigning at all wasn’t a consideration.

She’d come close twice before. Over dinner in Bedminster in early August, she told Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump that she was unhappy. She’d thought that being in the White House would feel different than the campaign, but instead, surrounded by eccentrics, maniacs, divas, and guys from the Republican National Committee who seemed to think they were managing a Best Buy in Kenosha, it was somehow sicker there in the stillness of it all. She suggested removing herself from the belly of the psychodrama to work elsewhere in the administration. Sharing her frustrations, Jared and Ivanka engaged her idea with caution; they asked her to give General John Kelly, the new chief of staff, a chance to change the West Wing for the better.

When Trump learned of the news, his response was unlike what many may have thought and certainly didn't include a tantrum. Hicks and Trump are as close as can be, and "over the course of three years, she’d spent more time with Trump than anyone, more than his own children and his wife, and she acknowledged his flaws and idiosyncrasies."

3) Trump really cares about money

Maybe the big news is that Trump actually apologized to someone (although it was more of an expression of sympathy). But Trump did care about money more than anything. New York Magazine continued:

When the president returned from the Capitol around noon, Hicks opened her office door, which clasps with a ring at its center, and walked about ten feet to her right, into the Oval Office. Before she could finish resigning, Trump interrupted her. He told her that he cared about her happiness, that he understood her decision, and he would help her do anything she wanted to do in her life. He said he hoped she would go make a lot of money. He also said he hoped that she would come back at some point.

Then the president added something else: “I’m sorry for everything you’ve been through.”

The profile detailed Hicks' daily routine and her personal relationships, including a love triangle with former Staff Secretary Rob Porter and former Trump Campaign Manager Corey Lewandowski.

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Hicks and Lewandowski dated prior to her and Porter's relationship, but the report indicated that a jealous and furious Lewandowski who had been shut out of the White House by a new chief of staff. Last month, Porter left the White House after it was revealed he had physically abused his two ex-wives. One of them, Jennie Willoughby, believed it was Lewandowski who went to the press and leaked the information about Porter's past.

4) Of course there was a love triangle in the White House 

Because this White House is like a bad reality TV show, there have to be romantic tensions involved. New York Magazine explained:

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There were some issues, of course. Lewandowski had fallen out with Hicks; he was hated by the family; and, when John Kelly joined the White House, Lewandowski quickly developed a conflict with him, a stricter gatekeeper than the previous chief of staff. But Lewandowski did have something important going for him: Although nobody could really explain why, the president liked him. When Kelly prevented him from entering the White House in January, “the president was upset,” according to a former senior White House official. “He complained extensively about Why wasn’t Corey allowed in!

[...]

The report prompted Hicks and Porter to break up, but the feeling around Washington was that the saga was the product of some political spycraft. “This had been planned and choreographed and coordinated and known long in advance by a group of people who were trying to play political games,” a source with direct knowledge of the events said, “knowing that this would be part of a larger story related to security clearances and John Kelly and others, seeking to sow chaos and dissension. They saw this as a useful catalyst, which it turned out to be.”


Charlie May

Charlie May is a news writer at Salon. You can find him on Twitter at @charliejmay

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