The Trump Presidency From Hope Hicks' Perspective, According to the Mueller Report
Some highlights from a 448-page document including the time that Hicks told Trump he should remove comments about James Comey from an interview given to Fox Business. The president wanted to keep it in, which Hicks found "unusual."
Hope Hicks, the former White House Communications Director and now Fox Corp.'s top press relations official, pops up frequently in the 448-page report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. That's not surprising, as she enjoyed a close relationship with Donald Trump and was personally interviewed by Mueller in the probe of Russian interference during the 2016 election.
Here are highlights:
Nov. 9, 2016: The day after Trump's election, Hicks got a congratulatory email from Vladimir Putin.
"Hicks forwarded the email to Kushner, asking, 'Can you look into this? Don't want to get duped but don't want to blow off Putin!'"
Nov. 10, 2016: Russian officials told the press that the Russian government had maintained contacts with Trump's entourage during the campaign.
"In response, Hope Hicks, who had been the Trump Campaign spokesperson, said, 'We are not aware of any campaign representatives that were in touch with any foreign entities before yesterday, when Mr. Trump spoke with many world leaders.' Hicks gave an additional statement denying any contacts between the Campaign and Russia: "It never happened. There was no communication between the campaign and any foreign entity during the campaign.'"
March 2017: Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the investigation.
"Hicks recalled that after Sessions recused, the President was angry and scolded Sessions in her presence, but she could not remember exactly when that conversation occurred."
April 11, 2017: Trump gave a taped interview to Fox Business Network host Maria Bartiromo and was asked if it was too late for him to ask then-FBI director James Comey to step down. Trump responded, "No, it's not too late, but you know, I have confidence in him. We'll see what happens. You know, it's going to be interesting."
"After the interview, Hicks told the President she thought the President's comment about Comey should be removed from the broadcast of the interview, but the President wanted to keep it in, which Hicks thought was unusual."
No word on how Trump even had the power to remove something on Fox Business Network. Comey was fired less than a month later.
May 17, 2017: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Robert Mueller as Special Counsel in the wake of Comey's firing. According to notes from Jody Hunt, then Sessions' chief of staff, Trump responded to the news by saying, "Oh, my God. This is the end of my Presidency. I'm fucked."
Trump told Sessions he should resign as Attorney General.
"Hicks saw the President shortly after Sessions departed and described the President as being extremely upset by the Special Counsel's appointment. Hicks said that she had only seen the President like that one other time, when the Access Hollywood tape came out during the campaign."
A few days later, Hicks recalled that on a flight from Saudi Arabia to Tel Aviv, Trump pulled Sessions' resignation letter from his pocket, showed it to advisors and asked what he should do about it. Later, Trump returned the letter to Sessions with a notation saying, "Not accepted."
June 2017: News broke that a year earlier, Trump campaign officials including Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner held a meeting with Russians at Trump Tower. Discussions ensued on how to handle the Campaign's emails in advance of this meeting.
"Communications advisors Hope Hicks and Josh Raffel recalled discussing with Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump that the emails were damaging and would inevitably be leaked. Hicks and Raffel advised that the best strategy was to proactively release the emails to the press... On June 28, 2017, Hicks viewed the emails at Kushner's attorney's office. She recalled being shocked by the emails because they looked 'really bad.' The next day, Hicks spoke privately with the President to mention her concern about the emails, which she understood were soon going to be shared with Congress. The President seemed upset because too many people knew about the emails and he told Hicks that just one lawyer should deal with the matter. The President indicated that he did not think the emails would leak, but said they would leak if everyone had access to them."
Despite President Trump's direction not to be proactive in disclosing the emails, they eventually got out when Trump Jr. tweeted them. Hicks worked with the President on a statement for Trump Jr. about how the meeting was merely about the adoption of Russian children.
July 19, 2017: Trump gave an unplanned interview to The New York Times in which he criticized Sessions' decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation.
"Hicks, who was present for the interview, recalled trying to 'throw [herself] between the reporters and [the President]' to stop parts of the interview, but the President 'loved the interview.'"
Jan. 26, 2018: The New York Times reported that Trump had months earlier attempted to order White House Counsel Don McGahn to fire Mueller. Trump wanted McGahn to dispute the accuracy of the story. McGahn wouldn't comply.
"Hicks also recalled that the President spoke on the phone that day with Chief of Staff John Kelly and that the President said Kelly told him that McGahn had totally refuted the story and was going to put out a statement. But Kelly said that he did not speak to McGahn when the article came out and did not tell anyone he had done so."
Hicks left her post at the White House on Feb. 28, 2018. She took a job as communications chief at Fox Corp. in October.