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2 Feb 2018

COULD HOPE HICKS BE THE ONE TO BRING DOWN TRUMP?

When Donald Trump catapulted to the forefront of the public consciousness, he brought Hope Hicks along with him. The 29-year-old, who by all accounts is now one of Trump’s closest confidantes, had previously served as a cog in the Trump P.R. machine, but quickly impressed the president-to-be with her abilities as a spokeswoman: “If you see her phone going . . . ‘This is Hope. This is Hope. This is Hope.’ She gets a call a minute, probably,” Trump marveled to GQ during the campaign. “Hope’s been involved from the beginning, and she has been absolutely terrific.”
But as Robert Mueller’s probe barrels on, Hicks’s front-row seat to history could backfire, jeopardizing the administration and throwing her own actions into question. According to a Wednesday report from The New York Times, Mark Corallo, a former legal spokesman for the Trump administration who resigned in July, will testify to Mueller that Hicks may have been part of an obstruction effort, after news broke that Donald Trump Jr. had met with a Russian lawyer during the campaign. Per the Times:

In Mr. Corallo’s account—which he provided contemporaneously to three colleagues who later gave it to the Times—he told both Mr. Trump and Ms. Hicks that the statement drafted aboard Air Force One would backfire because documents would eventually surface showing that the meeting had been set up for the Trump campaign to get political dirt about Mrs. Clinton from the Russians.

According to his account, Ms. Hicks responded that the e-mails “will never get out” because only a few people had access to them. Mr. Corallo, who worked as a Justice Department spokesman during the George W. Bush administration, told colleagues he was alarmed not only by what Ms. Hicks had said—either she was being naïve or was suggesting that the e-mails could be withheld from investigators—but also that she had said it in front of the president without a lawyer on the phone and that the conversation could not be protected by attorney-client privilege.

Adding to the perplexing nature of Hicks’s remarks was the fact that the e-mails had already been sent to Capitol Hill as part of Congress’s own investigation, meaning that Don Jr.’s damning messages had passed through several sets of hands. Corallo, who previously served under Attorney General John Ashcroft, reportedly got off the phone, advised Trump to continue the discussion with lawyers present, took notes about the call, and told then-chief strategist Steve Bannon what had happened. (According to the Michael Wolff book Fire and Fury, Bannon lost his temper with Hicks after the meeting, telling her that she should get a lawyer and adding, “You don’t know how much trouble you are in . . . you are as dumb as a stone!”)

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