Hope Hicks, a 28-year-old former model and member of the Donald Trump inner circle — who is so close to him that she is known among his associates as “The Trump Whisperer” — is likely to undergo a grilling by Russia investigation special counsel Robert Mueller this week, a prospect reported to worry the White House due to the potential damage Hicks could cause by revealing some of Trump’s deepest secrets.
In particular, Mueller is expected to quiz Hicks, who rarely speaks in public despite her current title as White House communications director, about why she stated on November 11 of 2016 — just three days after the presidential election — that no one in the Trump campaign had any contact with Russian officials or representatives.
“It never happened,” Hicks said at the time. “There was no communication between the campaign and any foreign entity during the campaign.”
But not only has her statement been repeatedly shown to be false as numerous meetings between Russian officials and Trump campaign staff and advisers have been revealed and acknowledged by Trump campaign members, but Hicks herself received email from campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page informing her of his trip to Russia in the summer of 2016 — a trip on which page according to his own congressional testimony met with Russian business leaders and officials.
Mueller will also likely probe Hicks about her role in crafting a misleading statement issued by the White House after news broke this year of a June 2016 meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a group of Russians who were apparently acting as agents of the Kremlin. At that meeting, Trump Jr. promised that if Trump were to “come to power,” his father’s administration may ease economic sanctions on Russia — if the Russians delivered the “dirt” on Democrat Hillary Clinton they had promised.
According to a report in Vanity Fair magazine, the elder Trump personally dictated a statement to Hicks which falsely claimed that the meeting — also attended by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and then-Campaign Manager Paul Manafort — was called to discuss, “a program about the adoption of Russian children that was active and popular with American families years ago and was since ended by the Russian government.”
Mueller is expected to question Hicks about her role in editing and revising Trump’s misleading statement, according to experts quoted by Newsweek magazine.
“We know ‘adoption’ was code word for sanctions, and we know that statement was a total fabrication since the campaign was looking for dirt on Hillary Clinton from the Russians,” former Watergate prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks told the magazine.
But an on-the-record interrogation of Hicks could also lead to the 2010 graduate of Southern Methodist University, who, despite lacking any political experience, has become one of Trump’s closest aides, revealing secrets not anticipated even by investigators. Hicks is reported to be unusually close to Trump — with some rumors claiming that in fact, she is Trump’s mistress.
While those rumors have never been confirmed, Hicks accompanies Trump on most of his official trips and functions, and he refers to her by such pet names as “Hopey” and “Hopester.” Hicks has been quoted referring to Trump in highly admiring terms, praising Trump’s “magnetic personality” and “positive energy,” lauding him as “brilliant with a great sense of humor.”
Despite what Trump himself has admitted is Hicks’ complete lack of political experience, Trump appointed her to a White House job with a salary of $179,000, the highest salary level of any White House aide.
Whether Hicks will be interviewed privately by Mueller and his team, or in closed-door sworn testimony to a grand jury is not yet clear. But one expert believes that Hicks will not reveal damaging information about Trump, even if it means a perjury charge.
“I don’t think there should be an expectation that she’s going to tell the truth,” another Watergate prosecutor, Nick Akerman, told Newsweek. “She’s got a boss who lies about everything, who expects his subordinates to lie about everything, so I would be shocked if she ‘fesses up to anything that’s worthwhile.”
[Featured by Andrew Harnik/AP Images]