Hope Hicks, the White House Communications Director, was one of Trump’s most trusted advisors, like “family.” But she got herself into big trouble during congressional testimony the other day when she admitted that she told “white lies” for Trump. She also refused to say whether a long list of Trump’s family members and close associates also asked her to lie. In other words, they asked her to lie for them, and she lied for them, but didn’t want to admit it to Congress:
After Hicks provided that answer, [Congressman] Rooney said [Congressman] Swalwell “went through the phone book,” asking Hicks whether a “litany of 50” people, including “the entire Trump family,” had ever asked Hicks to lie. The list of names, both Rooney and Swalwell said, included Ivanka Trump, Eric Trump, Donald Trump, Jr., Jared Kushner, Steve Bannon, Paul Manafort, Corey Lewandowski, Michael Cohen and others. Swalwell also asked Hicks whether she heard Mr. Trump ask others to lie for him.
Hicks gave a “blanket” response by declining to answer in each instance, Rooney said . . .
Beyond this latest screw up, Hicks has been in hot water for some time now. She interviewed with Mueller for two days in December 2017. Then in January 2018, Trump’s former legal team spokesman Mark Corallo said he thought Hicks was trying to figure out how to obstruct justice by making sure records regarding a 2016 meeting between Trump campaign officials and Russian intelligence agents would be destroyed and “never found” by investigators:
Mr. Corallo is planning to tell Mr. Mueller about a previously undisclosed conference call with Mr. Trump and Hope Hicks, the White House communications director, according to the three people. Mr. Corallo planned to tell investigators that Ms. Hicks said during the call that emails written by Donald Trump Jr. before the Trump Tower meeting . . . “will never get out.” That left Mr. Corallo with concerns that Ms. Hicks could be contemplating obstructing justice, the people said.
And the comments were not privileged because no lawyers were present during the conversation:
Mr. Corallo . . . told colleagues he was alarmed not only by what Ms. Hicks had said — either she was being naïve or was suggesting that the emails 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.
After the alarming conversation, Corallo then reported the incident to Steve Bannon:
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.
Bannon completely lost his shit in response and blew up at Hicks, which Triggered Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump (Fire and Fury, pp. 261-263:
. . . In time, he had come to see the twenty-eight-year-old as nothing more than a hapless presidential enabler and poor-fish Jarvanka flunky – and he believe she had deeply implicated herself in the entire disaster by participating in the Air Force One meeting. The next day, with more inquiries coming from reporters, he confronted Hicks inside the cabinet room, accusing her of doing Jared and Ivanka’s dirty work. The face-off quickly escalated into an existential confrontation between the two sides of the White House – two sides on a total war footing.
“You don’t know what you’re doing,” shouted a livid Bannon at Hicks, demanding to know who she worked for, the White House or Jared and Ivanka. “You don’t know how much trouble you are in,” he screamed, telling her that if she didn’t get a lawyer he would call her father and tell him he had better get her one. “You are dumb as a stone!” Moving from the cabinet room across the open area into the President’s earshot, “a loud, scary, clearly threatening” Bannon, in the Jarvanka telling, yelled, “I am going to fuck with your little group!” with a baffled President wanting to know, “What’s going on?”
[. . .]
For Bannon, this was just more Jarvanka desperation – they were the ones, not him, saddled with Comey-Mueller. They were the ones panicking and out of control.
For the rest of his time in the White House, Bannon would not speak to Hicks again.
Bannon saw the writing on the wall and apparently tried to scare some sense into Hicks. So why would Hicks want to destroy records that could show that Team Trump was coordinating and conspiring with the Russian government to derail Hillary Clinton? It might have something to do with a major criminal investigation that has already netted a number of indictments and criminal guilty pleas:
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team is asking witnesses pointed questions about whether Donald Trump was aware that Democratic emails had been stolen before that was publicly known, and whether he was involved in their strategic release, according to multiple people familiar with the probe.
President Trump seems to be unable to get away from the original sin of his presidency: his cooperation, coordination, and conspiracy with the Russian government to make hacked Hillary Clinton and DNC emails public and to do it in a way that did maximum political damage to Clinton while providing Trump with maximum political assistance.