Hope Hicks

(Photo by Oliver Contreras/SIPA USA)

New York Magazine's Nuzzi: 'I Think Time Would Be Up' For Trump If Hicks Cooperated With Mueller

March 19, 2018 - 2:37 pm
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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- Of all the recent departures, perhaps none has hit President Donald Trump as hard as that of his communications director, Hope Hicks.

Olivia Nuzzi, Washington correspondent for New York Magazine, wrote an in-depth article released Monday titled “What Hope Hicks Knows.” Speaking to WCBS 880’s Steve Scott Monday, Nuzzi said she believes if Hicks decided to cooperate with Special Counsel Robert Mueller on the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, “time would be up” for Trump.

Nuzzi explained in her article that Hicks’ initial motivations for involving herself with the Trump campaign, and later the Trump White House, were not so much political as personal – given her closeness with Trump himself.

“We don’t know much about her political beliefs. She is a registered Republican, but a pretty dispassionate one as far as I could tell; comes from a family where her father (Paul Hicks) was a local Republican official in Greenwich, Connecticut, but primarily a PR operative. He was the rep for the NFL until pretty recently. But her mother (Caye Cavender Hicks) worked for a Democratic congressman when she was younger in Washington,” Nuzzi said, “so, you know, it’s not as though she comes from some sort of rabid right-wing family.”

But Nuzzi said Hicks is still a “true believer” in Trump in that she likes him personally – and acknowledges his flaws while also forgiving them.

“She acknowledges the strange things about his personality, and his flaws in terms of like how he relates to the media, or why the same problems keep on occurring over and over and over again because he won’t change,” Nuzzi said. “But at the same time, she really does think that he’s a good person, and she seems to think that that is policy in a way. She doesn’t understand why his critics don’t consider what she considers when she thinks about the type of person that he is.”

After what Nuzzi’s article described as a childhood “playing lacrosse and modeling for tween book covers and children’s clothing,” Hicks graduated from Southern Methodist University with a B.A. in English and went into the public relations business – working first for New York publicist Matthew Hiltzik.

Hicks ended up with The Trump Organization account at Hiltzik Strategies and became close to Ivanka Trump – who at the time was trying to launch a lifestyle brand that “never quite got off the ground,” Nuzzi said.

“But she had the full trust of the family when she entered the Trump Organization to work for them, and if you’re Donald Trump, one of the only things that really matters in terms of how you assess people is whether or not Ivanka Trump likes them, and Ivanka Trump liked Hope Hicks very much. They’re good friends. So I think that had a lot to do with it initially,” Nuzzi said.

It ended up that Hicks was at Trump’s side when his campaign began and for all the time afterward, Nuzzi said.

“She’s been with him more, I think, than any of his three wives; any of his children, day and night, right beside him on the plane or in the White House 10 feet from the Oval Office – that’s where her desk is,” Nuzzi said. “When you’re sitting in there, you can hear him call for her. She will have to hang up the phone sometimes abruptly because you can hear him yelling. She is his right arm, you know?”

Hicks became a close confidant of Trump in no small part because he “trusts her entirely,” and because he has an easier time trusting women than men, Nuzzi said. Trump is skeptical of other men’s motives and competitive with them, but not so with women, according to Nuzzi.

Nuzzi added that for Hicks’ part, she put her own interests behind those of Trump and his White House – even when it came to the timing of her decision to resign. Hicks’ impending resignation was announced on Feb. 28, a day after she testified before the House Intelligence Committee on the Russia probe.

Hicks had been unhappy for some time before she actually announced her resignation, Nuzzi said. She had first talked with Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner about resigning in August, and then considered it again in early December and early January.

But each time, Hicks worried that the public would tie her resignation to an event in the news for which Trump was criticized for his response or handling – such as the Charlottesville, Virginia white supremacist protest in August, and the allegations of sexual misconduct against Roy Moore as he ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate.

“What is so interesting to me about that is that it never seemed to occur to Hope Hicks that it might reflect well on her if it was perceived that she was leaving because of something like Charlottesville or because of something like Roy Moore,” Nuzzi said. “She seemed to only be thinking about what effect it would have on the president and on the presidency, which I think explains everything for the last three years.”

By the time she actually did resign, Hicks had taken one of her black leather notebooks with the Trump name embossed in gold over the front, and wrote two lists – one with reasons to resign right away, and another with reasons to wait, Nuzzi said.

“Not resigning was not something that she was considering, and ultimately, she woke up on Sunday morning and just kind of had this sense of foreign-feeling peace almost, and she had decided what she was going to do,” Nuzzi said.

Hicks even worried about resigning when she finally decided to do so, in fear that it might be perceived that U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-California) had “broken her” during her testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, Nuzzi said.

“But ultimately, she came around to deciding that if she was going to do it, she would just have to do it then,” Nuzzi said.

Nuzzi said it is not clear what Mueller is looking into Hicks for when it comes to the Russia investigation, since neither Hicks nor Mueller ever leak information. But Nuzzi did say if Hicks were to flip on Trump, her knowledge could indeed be damaging.

John Dean was White House counsel for President Richard Nixon, and flipped on Nixon with damning testimony in the Watergate scandal. Dean, like Hicks, also has a “near-photographic memory,” Nuzzi said.

“And so I was thinking about John Dean in relation to Hope Hicks. I think if she decided that her legal exposure was so great that she needed to cooperate with the special counsel, I think the president would be in a great deal of trouble,” Nuzzi said. “She has seen and heard, and at the very least knows about, everything that has occurred in regards to him in the election since January of 2015. She’s been there longer than almost anybody else in that White House at this point except for (White House Director of Social Media) Dan Scavino, who is not quite as much of a senior staffer as she is and does not exist in the proximity that she does to the president. If she decided to cooperate with Mueller, I think time would be up for the president.”