*This post of mine is published on CNN.*
After two years, Hope Hicks, former White House communications director, is expected to return to the White House, this time as an adviser. CNN reported that her official title will be counselor to the President and that she will be “working closely” with President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner and White House political director Brian Jack.
To refresh our memories, Hicks resigned from her previous role in 2018, a day after she admitted to lawmakers in closed-door testimony that she had told “white lies” as part of her job working for Trump.
Hicks was also interviewed by the panel about any knowledge she had of contacts that occurred between other Trump associates and Russians.
What is most interesting about this development is not so much that Hicks is coming back, but the timing of her return. Hicks initially quit her position under the scrutiny of law enforcement and Congress. Her return as an adviser to the President says a lot about a renewed sense of confidence and impunity that Trumpers are likely feeling after the President’s impeachment acquittal by the Senate.
That impunity is a stain on the presidency. Hicks’ return is only the latest example the outrageous ways that Trump prizes loyalty and devotion at the expense of truth and patriotism.
“There is no one more devoted to implementing President Trump’s agenda than Hope Hicks,” Kushner said in a statement. “We are excited to have her back on the team.”
White House press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, echoed Kushner’s enthusiasm, describing Hicks as “one of the most talented and savvy individuals I have come across.”Even former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders weighed in, writing on Twitter, “There is no one more loyal, talented or fun than Hope. Not only is she brilliant, she is an amazing friend and will be a tremendous asset to the President and his team.”
The collective enthusiasm over Hicks’ official return to Trump World is understandable. After all, she is considered to be one of the closest people to Trump who even affectionately refers to Hicks as “Hopey.”The nickname is perhaps deserved when you factor in how long Hicks has operated in Trump’s orbit.
According to the New York Times, Hicks’ time with the Trumps began working as an aide for Ivanka Trump on the First Daughter’s now-defunct fashion label.Trump then hired Hicks as part of his early staff when he launched his campaign for president in 2015. Hicks quickly became a constant by Trump’s side and once he won the White House, Hicks followed him to the West Wing.
Even when Hicks left the Trump administration she did not stray too far, taking a position as head of communications for the Fox Corporation, the parent company of Fox News (whose unprecedentedly porous relationship to the White House has been a subject of much commentary).
Successfully surviving the Mueller investigation and the Democrats’ impeachment efforts, some of Trump’s former employees and associates seem to have gotten a clear message that there is no reason to fear consequences for their actions — and there are big rewards for staying loyal to Trump.
The President himself is driving this message home by publicly demonstrating the cost of perceived disloyalty. He is punishing those who went against him — firing Lt. Col. Vindman, his brother and Gordon Sondland, the now-former US ambassador to the European Union who went on the witness stand against Trump — and promoting those who served his own interests. It should be noted that Hicks is close with Kushner, who is a central figure in Trump’s reelection campaign, and much like his father-in-law, has strong feelings about loyalty.
As Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign swings into high gear, loyalty is clearly the non-negotiable trait he’s seeking in those who surround him. And the message the President is sending is that it pays to be true to Trump.