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Hope Hicks takes a picture on the West Front of the Capitol after Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

President Trump trusted nobody like Hope (or “Hopey” as he calls her.) It’s become a cliche that he views her like a daughter, but those who’ve watched them together say it’s true.

Why it matters: Trump will miss her in the same way he misses former bodyguard Keith Schiller. Hicks is family and has been part of his routine for nearly three years now. Trump increasingly finds himself working in a building populated by people he doesn’t know and doesn’t trust; some of whom did not even vote for him.

Hicks spent the Reince Priebus/Sean Spicer era of the Trump administration as wholly separate from the communications shop. She was the Trump whisperer — her internal power was untouchable and her role had no more definition than that. But when Kelly took over, Sarah Sanders became press secretary and Hicks communications director, she fully integrated with the press shop. She never appeared on TV; always stayed behind the scenes. But reporters like me — I’ve dealt with Hicks professionally for 2.5 years now — know her as the person who understands Trump the best.

Hick’s colleagues say her decision is the accumulation of six months of terribleness. She has always hated Washington, and never made it her home. She never wanted to make friends here and never trusted anybody outside of the small group of people she befriended inside the White House. Any spare moment she had, she traveled to Connecticut and New York to spend time with family and old friends. 

What kept her in Washington was simple: Donald J. Trump. She was totally loyal to him and some colleagues believe she’d become a crutch for him.

But her leaving is no surprise to her colleagues. For somebody who wanted to stay behind the scenes, the constant coverage of her — whether it be the Rob Porter crisis or the Russia investigation — made her life hell, her colleagues say. One colleague told me she could never get used to how provincial Washington was. Nobody in New York bothers her when she walks the streets of Manhattan, but in DC she gets “spotted” at restaurants and chased by paparazzi.

  • A White House colleague added: “Something Hope will probably never get credit for but should: she totally organized that guns listening session - which people were skeptical of internally but I think many people now think is arguably one of the best moments of POTUS' time in office."

Bottom line: A White House official told me minutes after Hope’s announcement became public: “The fact that she was untouchable in that role put her in a unique position. That probably won’t happen again. She was unassailable in terms of her relationship with the president; and no one even tried. She’s one of the very few people here that you could say without fail had the best interests of the president at heart. She was a true believer, not an ideologue, but a true believer in Donald Trump.”

The announcement: Hope Hicks to resign as communications director

Go deeper: Amid this latest departure, Chief of Staff Kelly vs the family continues.

Go deeper

Updated 10 hours ago - Sports

The potential GOAT of chess faces intriguing challenger

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The World Chess Championship between Norway's Magnus Carlsen and Russia's Ian Nepomniachtchi began on Friday, 1,094 days after Carlsen won his fourth consecutive title.

Why it matters: During the long, COVID-fueled layoff, chess entered a new era, and with the championship finally here, the age-old game is ready for its close-up.

Department of Interior proposes raising cost of drilling on public lands

A horizontal drilling rig and a pump jack sit on federal land in Lea County, New Mexico. Photo: Callaghan O'Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Oil and gas companies should pay more to drill on federal lands and waters, the Department of the Interior argued in a report released Friday, saying that the current rates were "outdated."

Driving the news: The Department of Interior report said that the federal government's oil and gas leasing and permitting program "fails to provide a fair return to taxpayers, even before factoring in the resulting climate-related costs that must be borne by taxpayers."

11 hours ago - Health

U.S. to restrict air travel from 8 countries over new COVID variant concerns

A COVID-19 vaccine is administered. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The U.S. will impose new air travel restrictions in response to the Omicron variant, a new COVID strain first detected in South Africa, President Biden announced Friday.

The big picture: Air travel from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi will be restricted starting on Monday.

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