Those hoping for a return of Hope Hicks, President Donald Trump’s trusted aide and former communications director, are going to have to wait until, at the very least, Season 3 of The Presidency—or so she’s told friends and close associates.
According to multiple sources familiar with the conversations, Hicks has told confidants over the past couple weeks that she’s ruled out even entertaining a return to the Trump administration for the remainder of 2018, even if the president asked. Whether she’d still refuse beyond that is less clear, though multiple friends tell The Daily Beast that Hicks has clearly indicated she wouldn’t be interested in returning to Trump’s West Wing for years, if ever.
Hicks, who found herself at the center of high-profile scandal and Trump-Russia fallout during her stint in Trump’s Washington, was consistently viewed as the White House official who knew President Trump better than any other colleague. She was a loyal soldier, a frequent adviser, a source of emotional and calming personal support for Trump, and someone the president treated like family, so much so that he called her “Hopey.”
Following her retreat from Washington, D.C., earlier this year—a departure that triggered a whole new round of feuding, power struggle, and backstabbing in the Trump administration—Hicks has been enjoying stretches of vacation and fielding a glut of job offers. But, late last month, chatter about a Hope return, including to the post of chief of staff, began to emerge and it managed to reach even President Trump.
The origins of the chatter were a Washington Examiner column titled, “Hope Hicks should replace John Kelly as White House chief of staff.” The opinion piece circulated quickly among pro-Trump political circles with varying degrees of seriousness. Vanity Fair subsequently reported that Hicks was a “dark-horse candidate” to replace increasingly frustrated and power-stripped White House chief of staff John Kelly. “Two sources say Hicks’s name is being discussed inside the White House,” the article continued.
It is true that Trump and others at the top ranks of the administration, including his senior adviser and daughter Ivanka Trump, miss Hicks and have casually expressed a desire to have her back in some capacity. It is also true that the Hicks-for-chief of staff idea has been talked about in the West Wing, though mostly as a thought experiment or mere gossip. The Daily Beast however could not find any evidence that consideration of Hicks for West Wing boss has yet reached any degree of seriousness—though that hasn’t stopped some prominent voices from nudging the idea along.
“I love Hope! Having her back would be great,” Katrina Pierson, a senior adviser on Trump’s re-election campaign, tweeted recently. The president himself weighed in late last month, when asked aboard Air Force One about a potential Hicks revival.
“I love Hope. She’s great. I hope that—I’ve been hearing little things like that,” Trump told reporters. “I think everybody misses it. When they leave for a little while, you [in the press] exhaust a lot of people... They come in full of life, full of vigor, and they’re exhausted, and then they get their breath. Frankly, Hope is great and so are many of the other people and they went out. But many people would like to come back.”
Sources in and outside of the White House tell The Daily Beast that Trump has not, in fact, even called Hicks to discuss a possible chief of staff appointment, though the two have been in touch at least twice since Hicks left D.C. One instance occurred when, according to a White House official, President Trump ordered staff to send Hicks a dictated message wishing her well in her future endeavors and expressing that he missed her.
As for the chief of staff gig, sources said that the president is leaning far heavier toward tapping someone still working in the administration for whenever Kelly ends up leaving. Frontrunners remain Nick Ayers, Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, and Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget.
Hicks declined to comment on this story, and a White House spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.