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Trump's next communications director: 28-year-old Hope Hicks

Tribune Washington Bureau

August 16. 2017 9:14PM
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's press secretary Hope Hicks is pictured during a campaign event in Phoenix in October 2016. (REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo)

WASHINGTON — Hope Hicks, one of President Donald Trump’s most loyal and longest-serving aides, is taking on one of the most thankless jobs in politics: serving as his communications director.

The job is only temporary, according to a White House official who confirmed the appointment to reporters while demanding not to be named. The official promised that a permanent communications director will be named “at the appropriate time.”

Though the President often criticizes reporters for using unnamed sources, the White House announced Hicks’ appointment without allowing reporters to name the source of the information, insisting that they attribute the news as “Per a WH official.”

Hicks, 28, who first worked in the Trump Organization and for the President’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, served as Donald Trump’s campaign spokesperson and has been a senior aide in the White House since Trump’s inauguration.

If only on an interim basis, she takes a job that already has a troubled history in Trump’s young White House. Depending on how one counts, Hicks is the fourth communications director the President has chosen since the election.

Trump’s first pick for the job, Jason Miller, backed out before the President was inaugurated. He was replaced by Sean Spicer, who initially held a dual role as communications director and press secretary starting in January.

Michael Dubke, a veteran Republican media consultant, was brought on as communications director between February and early June.

When Dubke exited, Spicer resumed the dual duties until Anthony Scaramucci was enlisted as communications director last month. “The Mooch” had an explosive 10-day tenure, which ended when he was pushed out after making a number of incendiary comments about other members of the White House team to a reporter. Scaramucci never technically held the job, not making it long enough to get sworn in.

Spicer resigned from Trump’s staff in opposition to Scaramucci getting the job, but he had been filling in at the White House at least through the beginning of this week.

The job has proved especially difficult because Trump tends to ignore communications advice from his aides, tweeting often, holding impromptu news conferences and undercutting media strategies and talking points cooked up by his staff. He is also obsessed with the flood of leaks that have plagued the White House amid internal turf battles.

Trump’s staff members have repeatedly called the President his own best communicator.

But as recently as Tuesday, aides were stunned when Trump turned a planned announcement on infrastructure policy into a free-wheeling news conference in which he drew widespread criticism for equating the role of white supremacists and those protesting against them in the weekend violence in Charlottesville, Va.

Those factors may make finding a replacement difficult.

“Clearly, nobody else qualified is willing to fill the job,” said Rick Tyler, a veteran Republican media consultant. “Most communications people understand communications and the media and how to be effective in a very different way than Trump does.”

Most political consultants have urged Trump to focus on his policy agenda. “Most of the time, he’s focused on petty personal grievances and wars with the media,” Tyler said.


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