Trump's 'most trusted aide' Hope Hicks quits after 'white lies' admission
The 29-year-old's decision to leave White House adds to White House's reputation for chaos
She was supposed to be the "untouchable", reportedly Donald Trump’s most trusted aide, a close confidante who knew the president, his family and their lives prior to joining the White House. Regardless, that was not enough to save White House communications director Hope Hicks.
On Wednesday, Ms Hicks, who at 29 was the youngest person to ever hold the position, became the fourth to leave it since Mr Trump took office, taking the same step as Mike Dubke, Sean Spicer and Anthony Scaramucci.
Her decision to resign came a day after her eight-hour closed testimony in Congress, where she declined to answer many questions about the Russia investigation but admitted to telling "white lies" on behalf of the president.
Notwithstanding the White House narrative that Ms Hicks had planned her departure for six months, it was her answer to the question "Have you ever been asked by your boss to lie for him?", from Democratic Congressman Eric Salwell, that may have prompted her exit.
Ms Hicks’ resignation gives her more autonomy from the White House in dealing with the Russia investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller, who interviewed her in December.
Her departure is likely to make Mr Trump more agitated and on edge in dealing with the media. Ms. Hicks was a gatekeeper but also someone who has inside information about exchanges and emails between the Trump team and Russian contacts during the campaign.
It is unclear exactly when she will leave the White House or who will replace her.
Her boss called her "Hopester" and she called him "Mr Trump", according to a profile of her in Politico last year. She is a former model who started working for the Trump Organisation in 2014, initially promoting Ivanka Trump's clothing line and later as press secretary for Mr Trump.
The president was always aware of the lack of her political experience. His former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski revealed in his book Let Trump Be Trump, that the president had told him Ms Hicks "had about as much experience as a coffee cup", but that she was "good looking".
Her resignation is yet another sign of instability in Trump's White House, and speaks of the shrinking influence of Jared Kushner, the president's adviser and son-in-law. Mr Kushner lost access to top-secret intelligence on Tuesday, and another close aide of his, Dina Habib Powell, left this month.
Political analyst Robert Costa called the news of Ms Hicks' resignation, "the end of an era in president Trump’s inner circle", adding that "outside of family, no one has been more involved in his rise to power on a day-to-day basis. A media-driven politician's chief media strategist and gatekeeper."
Mr Trump praised his outgoing aide. "Hope is outstanding and has done great work for the last three years... I will miss having her by my side, but when she approached me about pursuing other opportunities, I totally understood. I am sure we will work together again in the future," the president said in a statement.
Trump's directors of communications so far:
While The New York Times said the decision was considered for months by Ms Hicks, and is unrelated to her congressional testimony and the Russia probe, the timing raised questions.
Ken Gude of the Centre for American Progress told The National: "It's very hard to believe that her decision is totally unrelated to the Russia investigations either by Congress or the special counsel Robert Mueller.
"She'd only been in the communications director job for five months," the legal analyst noted, which "makes it look like she's getting out before it gets even worse".
Updated: March 1, 2018 09:16 PM