By ZEKE MILLER and JILL COLVIN
WASHINGTON (AP) — Hope Hicks, one of President Donald Trump’s most trusted and longest-serving aides, is returning to the White House as the president works to surround himself with loyalists as his reelection campaign moves into high gear.
Hicks, who was one of Trump’s original 2016 campaign staffers, moved with him to Washington after he won a nd had been serving as White H ouse communications director before she left in 2018. She moved to California, where she joined the Fox Corporation as executive vice president and chief communications officer.
In her new role, Hicks is expe cted to serve as counselor to the president, working with presidential son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, according to a person familiar with the situation who spoke on condition of anonymity because the announcement had not yet been made public. She will not be part of the White House communications department, but will work closely with Kushner and White House political director Brian Jack “in a number of strategic areas,” a White House official confirmed.
Hicks is expected to start early next mont h, though details were still being worked out Thursday.
The news of Hicks’s move come s just one week after Trump was newly emboldened when he was acquitted by the Senate on impeachment charges. Since then, he’s been on a tear to clear his administration of those he sees as insufficiently loyal, reaching all the way back to the time of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. T hat includes ousting those he believed crossed him by testifying during the impeachment hearings before the House.
A t the same time, Trump has been working to surround himself with longtime aides he believes he can trust as he heads into what is expected to be a bruising general election campaign to remain in the White House.
I n addition to Hicks, Trump recently brought back John McEntee, another longtime staffer who began on the 2016 campaign as an intern and rose to become one of Trump’s closest staffers in the White House, with an office adjacent to the Oval Office. He had served as Trump’s personal aide until he was forced out of the White House in 2018 on the orders of former chief of staff John Kelly over issues with his security clearance.
McEntee is now leading the White House Presidential Personnel Office, an influential posting that coordinates the screening and hiring of thousands of federal government workers.
“This is bringing back Ringo and John and Paul and George,” said Jason Miller, senior communications adviser to Trump’s 2016 campaign, referring to the members of the super group “The Beatles.”
“This is putting the band back together for what is probably going to be the most consequential and important concert of their lives,” he said, noting that the people being brought back into the fold “are people that understand Trump as a person, who understand President Trump’s priorities, who he likes personally” and who “re going to spend every waking moment of their lives trying to help him.”
Indeed, the new s was praised publicly by top administration officials, including Stephanie Grisham, the White House press secretary who also serves as the current White House communications director.
“I have worked with Hope for almost six years and can say without hesitation she is one of the most talented and savvy individuals I have come across,” Grisham said in a statement. “She has always impressed me with her quiet confidence, loyalty and expertise, and I am beyond thrilled to welcome Hope back to the White House.”
“There is no one more devoted to implementing President Trump’s agenda than Hope Hicks,” Kushner added. “We are excited to have her back on the team.”
Known for her loyalty and low public profile, Hicks was part of the small inner circle that traversed the country with Trump aboard his private jet as he waged his unlikely campaign for the Republican nomination and then the presidency in 2015 and 2016. She was often described as someone who was especially deft at reading the president’s moods and helping others navigate his instincts.
Trump never wanted Hicks to leave the White House, which she chose to do as she was called to testify before lawmakers and the special counsel’s office during the Russia investigation. And she and the president remained in regular touch while she was at Fox, with the president trying to convince her to return to the White House since nearly the day she left, one of the people said.
The president’s sales pitch intensified in recent months amid impeachment.
Meanwhile, the conservative Newsmax TV announced Thursday that Trump’s first press secretary, Sean Spicer, will be hosting a political talk show that will air weeknights at 6 p.m. from Washington. “Spicer & Co.” will debut on March 3.
Follow Miller and Colvin on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ZekeJMiller and https://twitter.com/colvinj.
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