Hope Hicks is officially out of the White House as President Donald Trump bid his long-time aide farewell on Thursday with an awkward kiss and a couple of handshakes. Hicks tendered her resignation as communications director around a month ago, but even before her last day, infighting and backbiting inside the White House has allegedly already begun.
Hicks, 29, and Trump, 71, stopped and posed for photos as they exchanged goodbyes, Time reported. As they emerged from the White House, Trump repeatedly pointed at Hicks before shaking her hand and then planting a kiss on her as he held her back with his other hand. The president pointed at Hicks once more before shaking hands one last time. Trump can be seen telling Hicks something as he patted the arm of his confidante. The two then went their opposite ways as Hicks went back inside and Trump walked to Marine One, as he’s scheduled to make appearances in Ohio and Florida.
Hicks is not expected to be completely out of the picture. The former model will likely return to “tie up loose ends,” the Daily Beast White House correspondent Asawin Suebsaeng said in a tweet.
Hicks is also expected to remain in Trump’s circle in some capacity, as she’s been a close confidante of the first family for years.
With Hicks gone, the White House is allegedly in disarray. According to New York Times, Hicks was not only the president’s most trusted aide, she also acted as the bridge between Trump and the rest of the staff.
White House staffers are also thankful to Hicks as she helped “shield others from the wrath of Mr. Trump’s explosive outbursts,” according to CBS News.
“She’s the glue to the entire place,” a White House source said. “She helps keep the White House from fracturing. I don’t think people realize what’s about to happen once she leaves.”
The White House is supposedly scrambling to find a capable replacement for Hicks. Those interested in becoming the next communications director, the fifth for the 14-month-old Trump administration, have reportedly resorted to backbiting, as CBS News put it.
One candidate for the position, Treasury Department spokesperson Tony Sayegh, is already getting bad publicity after a Washington Examiner article said he “boss[es] people around” and “manipulate[s] others for his own benefit.” Sayegh is also described in the story as a “terrible bully,” especially to women.
Mercy Schlapp, another candidate, was described in a CNN report as a “pinch hitter” for Hope Hicks. The strategic communications director allegedly undermined Hicks during the Rob Porter controversy “to elevate herself in the White House hierarchy.” Apparently, the tension between Hicks and Schlapp was known to Trump.
Another Trump favorite, Kellyanne Conway, supposedly has the inside track for the job. Conway will likely act as interim director of the department.
— TIME (@TIME) March 29, 2018
Hicks was the first ever director of Strategic Communications, a position established during the Trump administration. She was then named the director of communications replacing Anthony Scaramucci, who was fired after 10 days. Mercedes Schlapp succeeded Hicks.
Hicks first worked for Ivanka Trump before becoming a full-time employee of the Trump Organization in 2014. The following year, Donald Trump appointed Hicks as press secretary for his presidential campaign.