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WHITE HOUSE — White House Communications Director Hope Hicks, who has been one of President Donald Trump’s closest confidantes since before his election, is quitting.
“Hope is outstanding and has done great work for the last three years,” Trump said in a statement issued late Wednesday afternoon. “She is as smart and thoughtful as they come, a truly great person. I will miss having her by my side, but when she approached me about pursuing other opportunities, I totally understood. I am sure we will work together again in the future.”
Hicks, 29, who is the youngest-ever White House communications director, refused to answer numerous questions Tuesday in a closed session of the House Intelligence Committee.
Hicks told the panel, according to lawmakers, she had occasionally been required to tell “white lies.” However, she insisted that she had never been untruthful about anything connected to the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, in which Republican nominee Trump defeated the Democratic contender, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Sources say that Hicks was nervous and shaken by the experience of Tuesday’s all-day grilling before the committee.
Hicks has also previously been interviewed by the special counsel’s team overseeing the Russia investigation.
“There are no words to adequately express my gratitude to President Trump. I wish the President and his administration the very best as he continues to lead our country,” Hicks said in a statement.
Although Hicks had a very low public profile in what normally is a high visibility position, she oversaw a press office with dozens of people, and for years has been seen constantly by Trump’s side.
The former model, who had no political experience before the presidential campaign, joined the Trump Organization in 2014 after modeling for the online store run by Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter.
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, in a statement released with Hick’s resignation announcement, praised her as “a trusted adviser and counselor, and did a tremendous job overseeing the communications for the President’s agenda, including the passage of historic tax reform.”
Kelly said Hicks “has served her country with great distinction. To say that she will be missed, is an understatement.”
Hicks is the fifth person to have held the title of White House communications director during the 14 months of the Trump administration.
Hedge fund millionaire Anthony Scaramucci, who was Hick’s predecessor, lasted just 10 days in the job. He was fired by Kelly after an expletive-laden interview was published in which Scaramucci criticized several other high-level White House officials.
Hicks, according to White House sources, had been considering departing for months, and her departure was not triggered by Tuesday’s congressional testimony or publicity about former White House aide Rob Porter, who had been in a romantic relationship with her.
Porter, who was White House staff secretary, became enmeshed in scandal after his two former wives accused him of physical abuse.
Hicks “is the President’s longest-serving aide, having worked with him before he announced his candidacy, through the campaign and into the second year of his administration,” said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders in a statement. “After three years, she approached the President and told him she wanted to leave, so she could start exploring opportunities outside of the White House.”
According to Sanders, Hicks’ precise departure date “is to be determined, but it will be sometime in the next few weeks.”