Trump brings Hope Hicks back to his team

Donald Trump has persuaded his former communications director Hope Hicks to rejoin his team.
Donald Trump has persuaded his former communications director Hope Hicks to rejoin his team.

One of Donald Trump's most trusted and longest-serving aides, Hope Hicks is returning to the White House as the president's reelection campaign moves into high gear.

Hicks, a former White House communications director who was one of Trump's original 2016 campaign staffers, is expected to serve as counsellor to the president, working with presidential son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner.

She left the White House in 2018 and moved to California to work as a top executive at the Fox Corporation, though she and Trump remained in touch.

Hicks's move comes just one week after Trump was acquitted by the Senate on impeachment charges. Since then, he's been clearing his administration of those he sees as insufficiently loyal.

More departures are expected in the coming days, including at the shrinking foreign policy arm of the White House, where Trump's national security adviser has been pushing for months to cull staff.

At 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.

In 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, with an office adjacent to the Oval Office.

"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 Beatles.

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.

She and the president remained in regular touch while she was at Fox, with the president repeatedly trying to convince her to return to the White House.

Even before Trump's acquittal, his national security adviser Robert O'Brien had been working to shrink the ranks at the National Security Council, where Alexander Vindman, the director for European Affairs, had worked before he was escorted out of the White House last week.

O'Brien said the streamlining will be completed by the of the week, with about 70 fewer staffers than the 115 to 120 staffers when he started the job in September.

Meanwhile, the conservative Newsmax TV announced Thursday that Trump's first press secretary, Sean Spicer, will be hosting a political talk show that will debut on March 3.

Australian Associated Press