Hope Hicks appears to be back in Donald Trump’s inner circle, and critics believe that the reunion with the president is tampering with a potential witness in the Russia investigation.
Hicks left the White House earlier this year as one of the longest aides to Trump, dating back to even before his run for presidency started. She was considered one of Trump’s most trusted allies, and her departure was seen as a major blow to Trump’s inner circle, though The Hill reported that she now appears to be back.
Hicks was seen boarding Air Force One on Saturday en route to a campaign rally in Ohio. It was unclear what role she played in the rally or if the visit could mark a return to the White House, but it generated plenty of controversy among Donald Trump’s critics.
As The Hill noted, Hicks abruptly left the White House in February, immediately after her testimony before the House Intelligence Committee where the White House Communications Director admitted that telling “white lies” was part of her job.
The meeting prompted allegations that Donald Trump was tampering with a witness, as Hope Hicks was reportedly a witness for Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation and submitted to an interview last year.
*WITNESS TAMPERING IN 5 STEPS*
1. Trump knows Hicks is a witness in a federal case.
2. He's been told he mustn't speak to her.
3. His chief topic in public and private is the Russia probe.
4. Hicks is on a plane with Trump right now.
5. Trump is tampering with a federal witness.
— Seth Abramson (@SethAbramson) August 4, 2018
As New York Magazine noted last year, Hope Hicks was seen as potentially the most important witness for Robert Mueller, as she had been by Donald Trump’s side since the beginning and was seen as one of his most trusted confidants.
“Hicks is set apart by her unusually close and consistent proximity to [Trump], and her pansophical understanding of his universe,” the report. “Since January of 2015, when he first asked her to travel with him to Iowa as he prepared to announce his candidacy, she has remained by his side, outlasting far more experienced operatives and staffers to become one of just a few remaining members of an insular network of confidantes, and perhaps the only senior White House official whose status never seems in doubt. Beyond that, she arguably spends more time in the company of the president than any other senior staffer.”
SPOTTED at Morristown, NJ airport ahead of Air Force One departure for Trump’s Ohio rally: Hope Hicks pic.twitter.com/eZgvASvfwj
— Jonathan Lemire (@JonLemire) August 4, 2018
Many of Donald Trump’s critics compared the Air Force One ride to the ill-fated tarmac meeting between Bill Clinton and Attorney General Loretta Lynch during the 2016 campaign. At the time, Hillary Clinton was under FBI investigation for her alleged use of an unauthorized email server, and Lynch was forced to recuse herself from the case after the secret meeting with Bill.