'Most influential person in the White House' quits

  1. 'Spokesperson-bodyperson-intern' – Wolff on Hicks
  2. 'World's worst PR person' – Trump on Hicks

White House director of communications, 29-year-old former model Hope Hicks, announced her resignation (The New York Times) shortly after acknowledging to an inquiry that she told “white lies” on behalf of President Donald J. Trump (The Washington Post). Each then lavished praise and kind words on the other, and the president’s daughter and Hicks’ former boss Ivanka Trump said she was “loved and admired.”

Who is Hicks? Some of the answers may be in Fire and Fury, the tell-all, fly-on-the-wall, novelistic non-fiction bestseller by Michael Wolff who describes her in the book as Trump’s “spokesperson-bodyperson-intern.” The book also quotes Trump, apparently jovially, telling Hicks “you must be the world’s worst PR person.”

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U.S. President Donald Trump confers with White House Communications Director Hope Hicks during an interview with Reuters at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 17, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Donald Trump confers with White House Communications Director Hope Hicks during an interview with Reuters at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 17, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Wolff is on a tour to promote the book and last week portrayed Hicks as a sort of Trump whisperer – someone who could divine the moods the president and even present him bad news in the best possible light.

“The president’s two most senior advisors are Hope Hicks who’s 28 or 29 and she was a former junior fashion PR person before she came to work for the Trump campaign. And she is now, I would say, the most influential person in the White House,” Wolff said at an appearance in London with Armando Iannucci, the Scottish writer of the hit American show VEEP. “The other is a guy called Stephen Miller who was, as Bannon said ‘he’s my typist!’ So these are now the pillars of American politics.”

Here’s a selection of lines from Fire and Fury describing Hicks:

  • “You’re the best piece of tail he’ll ever have.” – Trump reported speech to Hicks when she talked to him about her affair with his former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. Wolff, Michael. Fire and Fury. Little, Brown Book Group. Kindle Edition. (Kindle Locations 3459-3460)
  • “Lewandowski and Hope Hicks, the PR aide put on the campaign by Ivanka Trump, had an affair that ended in a public fight on the street.” Wolff, Michael. Fire and Fury (Kindle Locations 308-309)
  • “To the senior staff, she seemed not only too young and too inexperienced – she was famous among campaign reporters for her hard-to-maneuver-in short skirts – but a way-too-overeager yes woman, always in fear of making a mistake, ever tremulously second-guessing herself and looking for Trump’s approval.” – Wolff, Michael. Fire and Fury (Kindle Locations 2581-2583)
  • “Baffling to almost everyone, Hicks remained his closest and most trusted aide, with, perhaps, the single most important job in this White House: interpreting the media for him in the most positive way it could be interpreted, and buffering him from the media that could not be positively spun.” – Wolff, Michael. Fire and Fury (Kindle Locations 2584-2586)
  • “After the wiretap tweets, everybody, save perhaps Hope Hicks, moved into a state of queasy sheepishness, if not constant incredulity. Sean Spicer, for one, kept repeating his daily, if not hourly, mantra: ‘You can’t make this shit up.'” – Wolff, Michael. Fire and Fury (Kindle Locations 2742-2744)
  • “Hicks’s family increasingly, and incredulously, viewed her as rather having been taken captive … Following the Trump victory and her move into the White House, her friends and intimates talked with great concern about what kind of therapies and recuperation she would need…” – Wolff, Michael. Fire and Fury (Kindle Locations 3452-3453)
  • “The president had charged her with the ultimate job: a good write-up in the New York Times. That, in the president’s estimation, had yet failed to happen, ‘but Hope tries and tries,’ the president said. On more than one occasion, after a day – one of the countless days – of particularly bad notices, the president greeted her, affectionately, with ‘You must be the world’s worst PR person.'”  Wolff, Michael. Fire and Fury (Kindle Locations 3469-3473) 
  • “‘The problem isn’t Twitter, it’s Hope,’ observed one communication staffer.” – Wolff, Michael. Fire and Fury (Kindle Locations 4377-4378)

WikiTribune interviewed Wolff after the publication of his book and he defended his approach and reporting methods. We also ran excerpts of the book and reactions from those who criticized Wolff.

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