White House Communications Director Hope Hicks (R) with fellow Trump aide Kellyanne Conway in the Oval Office. (Saul Loeb/AFP)
Hope Hicks, the White House staffer whose positive Covid-19 test this week foretold President Donald Trump’s coming down with the disease, is one of the US leader’s most trusted aides with access on a par with his daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner.
With only one modest break, the 31-year-old former fashion model has been in Trump’s inner orbit since joining his Trump Organization in 2014, longer than almost anyone else.
Hicks, who like other core Oval Office staff has been seen in proximity of the president without a mask, showed symptoms of coronavirus late Wednesday while accompanying Trump to a campaign speech in Minnesota and then tested positive.
Within hours, Trump announced on Twitter that he and First Lady Melania had also tested positive and would self-quarantine.
Officially counsellor to the president, Hicks is a seasoned public relation specialist who guides Trump’s daily schedule, devises election messaging and daily spin on the newest controversies, and handwrites pocket talking points for his meetings.
Her skill, according to a number of accounts, is channelling Trump’s own thinking into messaging and, for media consumption, letting “Trump be Trump.”
Like Ivanka Trump, the long-haired brunette is always seen in fashionable clothes and high heels, embellishing the feminine glamour that Trump likes to surround himself with.
She began working in Trump’s eponymous real estate company in 2014 first as an assistant to Ivanka but within a short time for the tycoon himself.
Hicks became communications manager for his 2016 election campaign, and after he triumphed was made White House director of strategic communications.
She stayed out of the limelight, never speaking officially or giving interviews, and mostly remained unstained by the numerous controversies and investigations around Trump’s administration.
Hicks did testify to Justice Department and Congressional investigations into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, but mostly declined to answer and adhered to the White House line.
She was also alleged to have knowledge of Trump’s pre-election hush payments to two women who claimed to have had affairs with him, but was not charged with any wrongdoing.
In February 2018, Hicks did stumble into her own controversy when the man she was dating, White House staff secretary Rob Porter, was forced to resign over domestic abuse accusations from his two former wives.
Hicks resigned and fled from the limelight to a California job as chief communications officer of the news and sports unit of the Fox media group.
Earlier this year, after Trump had lost a number of top administration officials and faced an uphill reelection battle, she returned to his side as counselor and senior advisor, officially working under Kushner.
A recent Vanity Fair article said she was behind Trump’s strategy for dealing with the coronavirus pandemic by holding daily freewheeling press conferences, letting “Trump be Trump,” which was seen as the secret to his 2016 upset election victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton.