Presidents most trusted aide dedicated gracious White House send-off, but exit highlights continued uncertainty in Trumps inner circle
With a handshake and a presidential kiss on the cheek, Hope Hicks bid farewell to the White House, the press-shy communications director taking a rare moment in the spotlight on her final day in Donald Trump’s administration.
The exit of the president’s most trusted aide, coming one day after yet another cabinet departure, highlightings continuing uncertainty among Trump aides and White House staff about who might be the next to go.
Hicks departed the administration on her own terms and was given a gracious goodbye by Trump outside the Oval Office in view of reporters. That stands in stark contrast to the White House treatment of David Shulkin, the veterans affairs secretary who was fired amid ethics questions and replaced by a White House physician who has no experience operating a bureaucracy or working with veterans.
As Trump friends defended the choice of Ronny Jackson, scrutiny quickly shifted to a number of other cabinet members facing ethics questions and with strained its relation with the president, as well as a White House chief of staff who has received his influence lessened. Trump aides and outside advisers suggested that other changes weren’t imminent, but no one could tell how long that would last.
” I’ll have to get back to you on that ,” told deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters when asked on Us air force One if Trump now had his ideal cabinet.
White House officials are apprehensive about Hicks’ deviation, dedicated her unrivaled position in the president’s orbit. Despite her title as communications director, Hicks was more accurately described by White House officials as Trump’s right-hand woman and media gatekeeper, providing required dosages of affirmation to the president and able to deliver bad news to him with few repercussions.
The internal jockeying to replace her- if Trump even chooses to do so- has featured backstabbing and planted news stories that, in turn, bash the leading nominees: Mercedes Schlapp, the White House strategic communications director, and Tony Sayegh, deputy secretary for public affairs at the treasury department.
Many close to the White House, however, expect senior adviser Kellyanne Conway or press secretary Sarah Sanders to assume the role, at least temporarily. Sanders has grown close to the president since taking over the press secretary’s job after the resignation of Sean Spicer last summertime, and has been expending more time in the Oval Office lately.
Trump, never disciplined, has taken to freelancing more of late, as he moves to surround himself with aides less likely to try to rein him in. A speech outside Cleveland on Thursday meant to be about infrastructure instead felt like a campaign rally. And he has violated free of more of the restraints placed upon him by joint chiefs of staff John Kelly.
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