Feb 13, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Hope Hicks to return to White House

Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Former communications director Hope Hicks is returning to the White House as counselor to the president, an administration official confirmed to Axios.

Why it matters: Hicks was one of President Trump's closest and most loyal aides before she resigned in March 2018, working with Trump dating back to the launch of his campaign in 2015.

  • Hicks was interviewed by special counsel Robert Mueller's team multiple times as part of his investigation into Russian interference and possible obstruction of justice by Trump.
  • After leaving the White House, Hicks also testified before the House Judiciary Committee, where Democrats claimed White House lawyers blocked her from answering questions 155 times.

Details: Rather than returning to the communications office she once lead, Hicks will report to senior adviser Jared Kushner and work alongside political director Brian Jack. She will work on Kushner's portfolio, which includes the re-election campaign.

Between the lines, per Axios' Jonathan Swan: Bringing back Hicks — somebody Trump has often said he wished would return — is a sign Trump wants to be surrounded by his original loyalists heading into re-election.

What they're saying: "There is no one more devoted to implementing President Trump's agenda than Hope Hicks," Kushner said in a statement to the New York Times. "We are excited to have her back on the team."

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Ex-Trump aide John McEntee to lead White House office of personnel

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

John McEntee, President Trump’s former body man who was fired by former chief of staff John Kelly over security clearance issues and recently returned to the West Wing, is expected to lead the Presidential Personnel Office, according to two sources with direct knowledge.

Why it matters: Trump has increasingly become furious with what he sees as a federal government full of "never-Trumpers." Administration officials tell Axios Trump feels he’s surrounded by snakes and wants to clear out all the disloyal people.

Scoop: New White House personnel chief tells Cabinet liaisons to target Never Trumpers

McEntee, shown with White House counselor Kellyanne Conway and White House senior adviser Stephen Miller, walks on the South Lawn of the White House Jan. 9. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Johnny McEntee called in White House liaisons from cabinet agencies for an introductory meeting Thursday, in which he asked them to identify political appointees across the U.S. government who are believed to be anti-Trump, three sources familiar with the meeting tell Axios.

Behind the scenes: McEntee, a 29-year-old former body man to Trump who was fired in 2018 by then-Chief of Staff John Kelly but recently rehired — and promoted to head the presidential personnel office — foreshadowed sweeping personnel changes across government.

Trump's sense of invincibility

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios.

President Trump often says he's the smartest person in the room on virtually every topic. Now, after taking several risks on what he privately calls "big shit" and avoiding catastrophe, Trump and his entire inner circle convey supreme self-confidence, bordering on a sense of invincibility.

The state of play: Three years into Trump's presidency, their view is the naysayers are always wrong. They point to Iran, impeachment, Middle East peace. Every day, Trump grows more confident in his gut and less deterrable. Over the last month, 10 senior administration officials have described this sentiment to me. Most of them share it.