Things you don't know about Hope Hicks
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20.10.2019

Things you don't know about Hope Hicks

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White House Communications Director Hope Hicks is another member of President Donald Trump's inner circle to fall into the crosshairs of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into possible collusion between Russia and Trump's 2016 presidential campaign. 

How exactly did a 28-year-old political novice become the gatekeeper for press access to the president, and why does she almost never grant interviews, speak publicly, or use social media, despite being quite literally in charge of communication between Trump's administration and the outside world? 

We'll answer these questions and more as we take a closer look at one of Trump's most powerful confidants.
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She was a model

Often drawing comparisons to Victoria's Secret model Hilary Rhoda, Hicks took a pretty serious stab at modeling in her teen years. According to NPR, she "landed a modeling gig for Ralph Lauren" in 2002, then signed a two-year contract with Ford, the famous modeling agency that has represented everyone from Lindsay Lohan to Naomi Campbell. While her Ford connections helped her land TV commercials and a guest appearance on Guiding Light, Hicks' most high-profile gig, according to Cosmopolitan, came in the form of a cover shoot for The It Girl, a novel spin-off of the TV series Gossip Girl (2007-12).

Even with her early success in the industry, Hicks knew modeling may not be her career of choice. In an interview with Greenwich Magazine (via NPR), she said, "I'm not ready to decide if modeling is what I want to do with my life. I'm having so much fun, I'm just going to go where it takes me. But I want to continue with the acting." 
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In the same interview, Hicks also dropped a prescient hint about her future and offered a glimpse at her family's politically connected past. "I'm also interested in politics—it runs in the family, my parents met while they were working on Capitol Hill," she said. "If the acting thing doesn't work out, I could really see myself in politics. Who knows?"

Her family is kind of a big deal

Hicks grew up in the idyllic suburban paradise of Greenwich, Conn., a well-known East Coast enclave for America's upper class. Her family assumed a new level of status within the community when the Town of Greenwich proclaimed April 23, 2016 to be Paul B. Hicks III Day—Yes, really—to recognize the achievements of her father.
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According to the proclamation, he served as a town selectman for four years and worked as a political staffer to both U.S. Rep. Stewart B. McKinney and U.S. Sen. Lowell Weicker. He also launched a storied career in public relations, representing "a major tobacco company in Connecticut," as well as the NFL during the infamous "Deflategate" scandal, according to The New York Times. Paul's B. HIcks III's father was also something of a PR heavy-hitter, having "led public relations for Texaco during the 1970s oil crisis."

On her mother's side, Hope's grandfather held the distinguished title of director of communications of the Institute of Agriculture at the University of Tennessee, according to The New York Times.

Clearly, her family forged a successful professional path along numerous avenues, but it was an ironic professional connection of her father's that would open the door that eventually led her to the Trump administration.
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She worked for Ivanka Trump

According to The New York Times, Hope got her own big break in the PR world when she and her father "bumped into [Alec] Baldwin at the Super Bowl." The chance encounter with the actor, who would later become her boss' No. 1 public tormentor, led to a job with Matthew Hiltzik, a powerful NYC public relations expert who represented Baldwin and who also happened to work for the Trump Organization.

Through her gig with Hiltzik, Hicks found herself assigned to none other than Donald Trump's daughter, Ivanka Trump, who at the time was developing a fashion line, according to GQ. Hicks and Ivanka grew close, which in turn put Hicks onto Donald's radar. It didn't take long for him to "poach" Hicks from Hiltzik, hiring her to work directly for him at Trump Tower. "I thought Hope was outstanding," Donald told GQ during a profile about Hope (for which she declined to comment, yet sat in the room while he spoke about her.)
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It was perhaps this deference towards her famous boss, combined with an apparent savvy about how to retain control of one's image from intrusive media outlets, that led to Hope becoming a pivotal figure in Donald's presidential campaign.

Trump enlisted her to work on the campaign

According to Politico, President Trump has become so fond of Hope that he calls her "Hopie" or "Hopester," so it's no surprise that when he decided to run for election, he didn't really offer her a choice in whether or not she would join him on the campaign trail. "Mr. Trump sat her down and said, 'This is your new job,'" according to her mother, Caye Cavender Hicks, who also told The New York Times, "It was a shocker."
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Hope was reluctant to take the offer to become campaign press secretary—she even declined it when then-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski told her she had to choose between working on the campaign and working for the Trump Organization. It was reportedly the urging of The Donald himself that convinced her to get on board.

She helped orchestrate his presidential candidacy announcement

Given the ensuing fervor over the controversial remarks Donald Trump made during his presidential candidacy announcement, it may be hard to believe that the event was carefully curated by a public relations expert and a political strategist. According to New York Magazine, this was exactly the case as Hope Hicks and Lewandowski "worked into the early hours of the morning prepping for Trump's campaign announcement in the lobby of Trump Tower."
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"We had to build the stage, make sure the flags hung perfectly; the eagles faced out; the carpet was red, and he would wear a red tie," Lewandowski said, but the crafting of Trump's image quickly took a backseat, as Hicks realized that it was Trump's celebrity—even over the substance of his speeches—that drew his followers. 

"Mr. Trump is the star," she told New York Magazine, describing the bare-bones campaign tactic of just putting Trump in front of a huge crowd and letting him rip as opposed to staging expensive photo-ops. "Look at the rally we did in Mesa, Arizona, December 16th," Hicks cited as an example. "That was the first one when we pulled the plane in and "Air Force One" [the theme song of the 1997 movie starring Harrison Ford] was playing. It's efficient. It's for branding, and we don't have to pay for the cars."

She helped Trump compose his tweets
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Although Trump proudly boasts that he mans his own Twitter account, a reporter for The Washington Post traveling with Trump's campaign observed him dictating his tweets to Hicks, who then sent them to other staffers, who physically tapped out the 140 characters.

It's not uncommon for businesses to retain social media managers. In fact, aside from Hicks, there is another staffer, White House Social Media Director Don Scavino Jr., who enjoys a large degree of control over Trump's Twitter. According to Wired, it has now become almost impossible to tell if it's Trump himself or Scavino posting the tweet bombs that regularly dominate the headlines.

It's unclear if Hicks is still involved in Trump's social media assembly line, considering her promotion to communications director sounds like a 24/7 gig–one that she sacrificed her personal life for on the campaign trail.
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She basically gave up her life for the campaign

In an extremely rare interview, Hicks spoke in surprisingly candid terms about Trump's expectations of his political staffers and the grueling nature of a political campaign. 

"There was a moment [the week before] the New Hampshire primary when we were in the office and somebody wanted to go home at like 11:30 p.m. And the campaign manager said, 'My boss [Trump] is working harder than you. That's not right. You need to stay and do what you're supposed to do,'" she told Marie Claire. "This is Mr. Trump's time away from his family, and frankly, it's his money. He's spent millions, and the thing we can do is work to the best of our ability as hard as possible. The pressure and the long hours—it's all relative to what he's putting in, which is everything."
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Hicks' slavish devotion to the campaign even caused her mother to fret. Speaking with The New York Times, Cavender Hicks said, "She doesn't really talk to anybody anymore, she has no life," adding, "I can't actually let her know how worried I am."

GQ even alleged that the "demands of her schedule led to a breakup with her boyfriend of six years." Whether that's true or not, the experience of joining the Trump Train has obviously been an emotional one for Hicks, who even felt the need to passionately defend her boss when she overheard guests at a wedding she was attending expressing dismay about his election victory, reported Politico. "I promise, he's a good person!" she allegedly told the Trump detractors.

The wedding incident, as innocuous as it was, was one of only two times Hicks has ever been caught off-script to date. The other incident involved an alleged shouting match on an NYC street.
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She got into a public fight with a former Trump staffer

In a rare misstep for Hicks, she was allegedly caught by onlookers "having a public screaming match on the street in Manhattan" with then-campaign manager Lewandowski in May 2016, according to Page Six. A witness to the alleged tiff told the tabloid, "Hope was screaming at Corey, 'I am done with you!' It was ugly, she was doubled over with her fists clenched. He stood there looking shocked with his hands on his head."

Though Hicks and Lewandowski both "declined to comment" on the incident, something had clearly gone wrong between them, which other sources with knowledge of the Trump campaign speculated was over the handling of the announcement that Paul Manafort "would be taking an even larger role" in the campaign.
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Though the street corner shouting match was viewed as a rare chink in Hicks' otherwise spotless armor, she seemed to suffer no lasting consequences for it. A month later, Lewandowski, who was already at the tail end of a string of embarrassing public incidents, was fired and replaced by Manafort as campaign manager, according to NBC News. 

She's the youngest White House communications director in history

At 28-years-old, Hicks became the youngest person to ever serve as White House communications director, according to ABC News. She stepped into the role most previously vacated by Anthony Scaramucci, who left the gig after a spectacularly disastrous 10 days that included a profanity-laced interview with The New Yorker.
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Hicks is the fifth communications director to serve in Trump's White House within the first year of the administration. "Jason Miller (two days), Sean Spicer (55 days), Mike Dubke (90 days), and Spicer again (64 days)" all preceded Scaramucci in the role, according to The Washington Post.   

Given the high turnover rate for the position, many are questioning if Hicks—or anyone—can succeed in the role. However, considering all she needs to do to raise the bar is stick around for more than three months and manage to not shout expletives at a reporter, we feel pretty good about her chances.  

She's known as a 'Trump Whisperer'
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Though it's clear by now that Trump doesn't pay much attention to his handlers, Hicks apparently has something of a magic touch when it comes to penetrating the president's steadfast independence. According to a Politico profile, "she has become something of a Trump whisperer—other aides rely on Hicks' judgment to gauge when is a good time to speak to the president."

To that end, her strategy when it comes to managing Trump's communications may focus less on what he says to the press and more on how she communicates with him, which her colleagues told Politico is akin to how Trump's daughter communicates with him, meaning "she can express her disagreements to the president privately, but ultimately supports his decisions unquestioningly."

Hicks reportedly helps to soften Trump's email outbursts towards journalists who have displeased him by politely signing them "Best, Hope," and she apparently knows to steer clear of him when he's indisposed with other important duties, like "watching a major golf tournament," according to The New York Times. 
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In other words: Hicks cracked the elusive code to communicating with Trump by never questioning his authority, serving up his rebukes with a smile, and not bugging him when he's watching TV. That…doesn't seem like it should have been that hard to figure out.


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