Hope Hicks: The Mystifying Triumph of Donald Trump’s Right-Hand Woman
June 20, 2016 - accent chair
One day you’re usually a smiley PR lackey; a next, you’re a vital user in a nuttiest debate in decades. Such is a bizarre year in a life of Hope Hicks, a 27-year-old random press secretary for Donald Trump. How did she get here? And how many longer can she last?
From a cabin to Donald Trump’s bureau on a 26th building of Trump Tower, we was fetched by Hope Hicks. She was apologetic for a wait and a small shaken about what I’d come to discuss—namely, her.
The 27-year-old press secretary was clad in a teal dress, and she dug her stilettos into a drab runner as she showed me into a office, a room arrayed with adequate Trump memorabilia to advise a sequence killer’s shrine. There before me sat Trump himself, behind his hulk desk, on that there was zero imitative a computer, a PalmPilot, or even an Etch A Sketch.
“Oh,” Trump said, flashing his scandalous contempt for handshakes as we extended my arm. He stood and reached, Martian-like, for my hand, as if a protocol were not a robe of businessmen or politicians. Hicks, meanwhile, staid into a $5,000 red velvet Knoll loll chair. She merged a grin to her face, and afterwards pronounced zero some-more to me. As if vocalization were not a robe of a spokesperson. But then, Hicks—who never appears on TV and frequency talks to reporters—resembles a normal domestic orator about as many as Trump resembles Mister Rogers.
Hicks is a product not of Washington nonetheless of a Trump Organization, a marble-walled star where one’s pleasant agreeability and inhuman faithfulness are value some-more than required experience. She is a hugger and a people pleaser, with prolonged brownish-red hair and immature eyes, a immature lady of clearly all-American flavor—the arrange that inspires Tom Petty songs, not riots. And nonetheless Hicks has, roughly by accident, helped designer a strangest and slightest respectful debate in complicated American history.
I wanted Hicks to assistance me know usually how all this had come to pass, how a authority who’d never worked in politics had nonetheless turn a many improbably vicious user in this election. But she declined my ask to talk. Instead, she organised something some-more surreal: we could speak about her with Donald Trump, in front of her.
Trump, of course, has small knowledge with subjects other than Trump, that he finished transparent when we asked him about Hicks’s discerning climb to his middle circle. “Bill O’Reilly final night pronounced it is a biggest domestic eventuality in his lifetime,” Trump said, exaggerating O’Reilly’s point. “The many implausible domestic eventuality in his lifetime! That’s flattering big. You know, who knew this was going to happen? So…” He pivoted, reluctantly, to a theme during hand. “Hope’s been concerned from a beginning, and she has been positively terrific.”
Hicks’s job—a sui generis purpose of outsize significance that she half invents on a fly—involves gripping a media during brook and handling as Trump’s arch gatekeeper. But she’s also summoned in vicious moments of difficulty to play inciter and score-settler. It was her pursuit to promote Trump’s reprove of a Pope after His Holiness questioned a Christianity of anybody who would build a limit wall (kind of Trump’s thing). And it was she who helped assail a womanlike contributor who’d been manhandled by Trump’s debate manager, immediately claiming she was a fibbing courtesy hound. Hicks was also called on this open to explain given Trump, over a march of 3 days, advocated 4 positions on abortion. She attempted nonetheless success to relieve a confusion, declaring, finally, that President Trump would finish abortion, elementary as that: “He will change a law by his legal appointments and concede a states to strengthen a unborn.”
Still, for all a grenades Hicks has to both burst on and lob, it’s a some-more quotidian ability set that seems to stir a boss. “If we see her phone going”—he lifted both hands and mimicked Hicks responding several devices—“ ‘This is Hope. This is Hope. This is Hope.’ ” He hung adult a yarn phones. “She gets a call a minute, probably,” he said, clearly gratified with this superannuated barometer of his possess popularity.
If Hicks is not many like a required press secretary, well, that’s all a improved for Trump, who hasn’t ever wanted one. “He’s always been good during being his possess spokesman,” Howard Rubenstein, a New York publicist who represented Trump in times of tumult, told me. (Rubenstein cunning have been vocalization literally. In a ’80s and ’90s, Trump reportedly employed flacks called “John Barron” and “John Miller,” spokespeople who’d phone reporters, sounding suspiciously like Trump.)
Of course, a executive member of Trump’s interest is his miss of domestic experience, that he advertises as explanation that once in office, he will do things differently, and better. Similarly, Hicks, a purebred nonetheless unfeeling Republican given 2008, had never so many as volunteered on a campaign. So we asked Trump if he noticed her alien standing as an asset, many as he did his. “No, we don’t consider there’s a advantage to that,” he pronounced flatly and frankly, “but she was means to build domestic knowledge quickly. She was really natural. She was really healthy when it comes to picking it up, and a lot of people can’t collect it up, given it’s so fast-moving. It’s faster-moving than anything else. You know, for genuine estate, we have dual days to get back. This thing”—by that he meant campaigning to lead a giveaway world—“you have, like, 4 seconds before a story goes blustering out.”
As Trump prattled on about a crazy-making celerity of it all, it wasn’t tough to suppose a suspicion resonating with Hicks, now blushing. The speed with that your whole life can spin—it has to be disorienting. we looked during Hicks, perplexing to discern a reaction, nonetheless her face was buried in her hand. And it was clear, usually then, that to consternation what Hicks has gotten herself into is to consternation something identical about ourselves.
Hicks’s large pursuit in politics started—not that prolonged ago—with a partially small gig in Trump Tower. In 2012, dual years after she’d graduated from Southern Methodist, Hicks was user for a New York PR emporium when she was dispatched to assistance one of a firm’s vital clients: Ivanka Trump.
At a time, Trump’s daughter was expanding her conform line, and Hicks was enlisted to representation in—and even do a bit of modeling, appearing online in a unsentimental mint-colored dress, black clutch, and heels, all from a Ivanka Trump collection.
Hicks grew tighten to Ivanka and began sauce like a heiress, who seemed estimable of a emulation. Ivanka was that singular womanlike corporate personality who is also kind to other women, and she influenced an atmosphere of cunning that seemed to rage a barbarity of a Trump brand. Conveniently, as Hicks ingratiated herself to Ivanka, she won over The Donald as well—helped by a eager-to-please display she’d displayed given childhood.
In Greenwich, Connecticut, as a kid, she was an contestant and a indication who—after appearing in a Ralph Lauren ad—told a internal repository she dictated to be an actress. By high propagandize she was swimming, rowing, and captaining a lacrosse team. (She’d go on to play on SMU’s bar team.) Kylie Burchell, Hicks’s lacrosse coach, removed her as one of a usually players to reside by a no-alcohol policy. “I consider a girls were angry during her a small bit,” she said. “She was perplexing to be a leader. She was display by instance what to do.” She wasn’t always so earnest, however. In her comparison yearbook, she incorrectly attributed a difference of Eleanor Roosevelt—“The destiny belongs to those who trust in a energy of their dreams”—to Jimmy Buffett.
That Hicks, a flattering immature lady from a tony town, would ride toward PR after college cunning have seemed obvious. Warranted or not, a PR Girl has turn a kind of stereotype—the land-bound stewardess of a aughts. A contention suspicion to need small some-more than a ability to travel in a span of Louboutins and harass people around e-mail. But a sorority-girl mimic wasn’t what Hicks had in mind, or in her pedigree. In further to her father, Paul, who destined PR during a NFL and now works for a D.C. energy organisation Glover Park Group, both of Hicks’s grandfathers worked in open relations.
After assembly Matthew Hiltzik, a New York PR shark, in 2011, Hicks landed a pursuit during his firm. It was here that she began user with Ivanka, putting her in a circuit of The Donald, who was fast impressed. “I suspicion Hope was outstanding,” Trump told me, recalling his preference to tell Hiltzik that he was poaching Hicks to work for him. In Trump’s telling, Hiltzik was unable to repudiate him what he wanted. “I wouldn’t contend he was thrilled,” Trump told me, “but, we know, we give him a lot of business.” (Hiltzik says a interruption was gentle all around.)
So Hicks assimilated a organisation during Trump Tower in Oct 2014, nonetheless any suspicion her new trainer dictated to turn president. Or that she had usually sealed on to his campaign.
One day in late Jan of final year, Hicks was summoned to Trump’s office. There she found Michael Cohen, Trump’s ball-busting attorney, and Sam Nunberg, a bold domestic playmate and protégé of Trump playmate Roger Stone. On a speakerphone was Corey Lewandowski, a journeyman user whom Trump had usually hired for a purpose misleading to Hicks.
To a assembled, Trump pronounced simply: We’re going to Iowa. Hicks contingency have famous that that meant jumping into a media playground that cunning change her life, nonetheless she wondered usually one thing, half in jest: What do people wear in Iowa? Soon she was during a Iowa Freedom Summit, fielding media requests and improvising in a purpose of real-deal domestic press secretary.
Within a tight, alpha-male round of hired guns, Nunberg could clarity her unease. A tall, heavyset male with slicked-back hair, Nunberg means Hicks a book, Running for Office. He nicknamed his new crony “Hopesicle” and fast grown a affinity for her. “She was really cute, given she was really concerned during initial about all of this,” he told me as he sipped a Thai iced tea during a grill on a Upper East Side. “I joked with her once, like, ‘You’re like my Peggy, like I’m Don Draper.’ ”
In reality, there was copiousness of foe for a purpose of bizarro Don Draper in a Trump gang. Michael Cohen—a consigliere of The Donald’s for a decade, with a near-parody Long Island accent—told me he didn’t know what to make of a beginner Hicks. When he answered my call, he was in a midst of yelling during someone else on his other phone (showing a inventiveness with a phone Trump would have appreciated, I’m sure). He described Hicks to me as a “sensitive person” who “takes things personally” when it comes to a coverage of her boss.
Hicks wasn’t awaiting to be a press secretary for long. Trips to pivotal primary states came and went with nobody holding her place, though. Just forward of Trump’s grave proclamation in June, Hicks’s ambivalence about her position combined play fit for an partial of The Apprentice. Lewandowski, a brief male with a shorter compound who looks like a cranky between Frank Sinatra’s mop shot and Voldemort, would play a starring role.
A 42-year-old user who’d worked for a Tea Party organisation Americans for Prosperity, Lewandowski was now a debate manager. Hicks was told she couldn’t work for both a domestic and corporate branches of a Trump team. She had to choose: Join a debate or go behind to a kids’ building of Trump Tower. Hicks, who hates to disappoint, nonetheless told Lewandowski he’d have to find a new press secretary, that apparently set him off. “He finished her cry a garland of times,” Nunberg said. In Nunberg’s telling, Lewandowski pronounced to Hicks, “You finished a large fucking mistake; you’re fucking passed to me.” Lewandowski declined to possibly endorse or scold Nunberg’s recollection. “I don’t remember a specifics of that,” he told me. “I can contend definitively that we don’t remember a specific occurrence that you’re referring to.”
Hicks reconsidered when Trump told her to stay. As she trafficked with him and a small rope of staffers around a country, things with Lewandowski eventually mended. Meanwhile, Lewandowski was consolidating power. Racist Facebook posts Nunberg had finished commencement in 2007 flush and stirred his firing. (He trashed everybody from Al Sharpton to Marxist Muslims to Louis Farrakhan.) Nunberg believes it was Hicks and Lewandowski who petitioned Trump for his ouster and drafted a heartless matter that characterized him as a “low-level part-time consultant.”
Nunberg still seemed bleeding 8 months later, when we met. “Of march she ratfucked me, that creates me proud,” he told me. Nunberg maintains no feelings of regard for Lewandowski. “I literally will siphon a fucking blood out of his skull by a time I’m finished with him,” he pronounced like a oddball gangster. Not prolonged after Nunberg’s firing, his mentor, Stone, left. (Stone says he quit, nonetheless a debate claims he was fired.) The round was removing smaller, and Hicks, a usually staffer nonetheless a bald mark or a tough-guy lilt, had apparently schooled how to hang on.
Trump’s debate domicile in Trump Tower occupy an aged fifth-floor prolongation studio for The Apprentice. The walls are plywood, flashy by grass signs and cutouts of Trump. For regard there’s a space heater. Befitting a TV past, a place feels utterly literally like a backstage workroom from that a whole Trump Show is produced.
Getting a many out of a star requires gripping him informed. While Trump nurses an apparent obsession to wire news, a reading that’s put in front of him is mostly cramped to a theme he already knows well. Every morning, staffers imitation out 30 to 50 Google News formula for “Donald J. Trump.” He afterwards goes during a sheaf with a marker, creation circles and arrows and annotating things he likes or doesn’t like. The defaced essay gets scanned and e-mailed to a publisher or a authority quoted who has drawn Trump’s attention, underneath a theme line “From a bureau of Donald J. Trump.”
As for what arrives in Hicks’s in-box, a standard day brings upwards of 250 media requests. Usually, she alone decides who gets in and who’s kept out. But infrequently it’s Trump who plays bouncer for his possess private party. “She sees a tantrums, and there are tantrums,” a source who’s been with Trump and Hicks told me. “He reads something he doesn’t like by a reporter, and it’s like, ‘This motherfucker! All right, fine. Hope?’ He circles it. ‘This guy’s banned! He’s criminialized for a while.’ That’s accurately how it works.” Hicks plays release officer to an endless and expanding blacklist of outlets and reporters (your match once included) no longer acquire during his events.
While Hicks is mostly fervent to please, she doesn’t mind upsetting a media and harbors no bend for a county duties of a giveaway press. When reporters send her questions, she’s mostly irked—convinced they’re personification investigator merely to annoy a campaign. She’s clearly unknowingly that they cunning usually be vetting a intensity United States president. Often she doesn’t respond.
None of this has warranted her many enemies, however. Like Ivanka, Hicks has managed to boyant above it all. For now. “I have always found Hope to be good to understanding with,” Maggie Haberman of The New York Times told me, “especially given a volume of requests she contingency be getting.”
The final of her report led to a dissection with her beloved of 6 years. And while she technically still lives in Greenwich—with her sister, Mary Grace—when she’s not roving on Trump Force One, Hicks stays in New York, in a Trump unit supposing by a campaign.
Getting cocooned in Trumpville can exam one’s essence or hole one’s reputation. Maybe even put one on a self-destructive streak. In May, Hicks, meditative she was e-mailing Trump plan records to a debate staffer, sent them instead to a reporter. Days earlier, she’d landed in a New York Post after she was speckled on East 61st Street, screaming during Lewandowski. The philharmonic was discharged as an interoffice dispute. Though if that’s to be believed, a romantic scene, as described to me by people who saw it—Hicks’s fists balled, her face streaked with tears—makes we consternation what a ruin goes on in a Trump War Room.
Outside a campaign, Hicks’s colleagues report about possibly she’ll bewail her heady initial brush with politics. “She finished a choice to work for a many nazi claimant in new American history,” one domestic orator told me. “Everyone who knows her tells her to stop doing this and putting her name on stuff.… She is going to bewail all she’s pronounced and done. And we don’t consider she knows it yet.”
Hawking golf resorts one day, Mexican-border walls a next, could Hicks have guessed what her pursuit would become? The gig she sealed adult for called simply for a constant execution of one man’s whims. And she did it with such coolness that maybe she didn’t notice that while a gauge never changed, a stakes certain had.
When we sat with Trump in his office—a few days before he sealed adult a nomination—I asked him if she would someday offer in a Trump administration. “Oh, yeah, sure,” he said, determining on Hicks’s destiny while she smiled silently and helplessly beside me. “In possibly capacity, possibly there, or she’ll stay here, but, uh,” he said, “I consider she wants to go there.”
Olivia Nuzzi covers politics for The Daily Beast. This is her initial essay for GQ.
The irritated debate manager (and Monster-energy-drink guzzler) was arrested once for bringing a gun to work on Capitol Hill. He’s had gigs in law coercion and lobbying nonetheless had never run a presidential race.
The debate authority and arch strategist worked for Ford, Reagan, Dole, and Bush 41 and finished a packet advising infrequently rough unfamiliar leaders. He’s also had a pad in Trump Tower for years.
A watchful playmate who dresses like a Depression-era banker, Stone’s been in Trump’s ear for decades. He got his start in politics assisting Nixon—whose face he has tattooed on his back. Really.
Trump’s daughter is an spontaneous nonetheless pivotal strategist and plays a partial of domestic wife. It was she, not Melania, who spoke during Trump’s proclamation debate and campaigned with him in a primaries.
The lawyer-henchman is famous for suave threats. He told a contributor recently to “tread really fucking lightly.… What I’m going to do to we is going to be fucking disgusting. You know me?”