Remember just last week when President Trump said on national television that, sure, he'd gladly take foreign help in the 2020 election (which, of course, would be illegal). Well, Hope Hicks thinks he actually meant it.
That what the president's former top adviser told the House Judiciary Committee this week, and she probably knows Trump as well as almost anyone outside of his family. She worked on his 2016 campaign and joined his White House as communications director, where she was known as having a cozy relationship with Trump and hardly ever out of earshot.
During her closed-door testimony before the committee, lawmakers asked Hicks about Trump’s comments to ABC News about accepting foreign help in an election. "I think you might want to listen, there isn't anything wrong with listening," Trump told George Stephanopoulos last week. "If somebody called from a country, Norway, ‘We have information on your opponent' — Oh, I think I'd want to hear it."
Lawmakers asked if she thought these sorts of comments from the president were a joke.
“I don’t think that was a joke, based on what I saw,” she said, according to a transcript of the testimony.
However, she did try to downplay the importance of the foreign assistance in the 2016 election. She described the trove of hacked Clinton emails released by Wikileaks as little more than a relief for the campaign and not something that made them “happy.”
“I think that ‘happy’ is not — I don't think that's a fair characterization,” she told lawmakers. “I think ‘relief that we weren't the only campaign with issues’ is more accurate.”
On the campaign trail, however, Trump repeatedly proclaimed his love for WikiLeaks.
During the 2016 campaign, as well as in the early days of the administration, Hicks was as close to Trump as anyone. CNN reported that when the two worked together, Trump called her more than his chief of staff, regardless of who held that title. Hicks didn’t answer congressional questions about the contents of those calls during her testimony, though — Trump’s lawyers objected more than 130 times during her testimony, limiting what she should say about her time in the administration.
Hicks has now moved on to life largely outside the Trump orbit — well, she works in communications for Fox so not that far outside — and, according to CNN, the president has openly asked “What happened to Hope?"
Still, she hasn’t left the president’s good graces entirely.
“So sad that the Democrats are putting wonderful Hope Hicks through hell, for 3 years now, after total exoneration by Robert Mueller & the Mueller Report,” he tweeted on Wednesday. “They were unhappy with result so they want a Do Over. Very unfair & costly to her. Will it ever end?”
Cover: Former White House communications director Hope Hicks is seen behind closed doors during an interview with the House Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, June 19, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)