White House Communications Director Hope Hicks is resigning less than six months after officially taking that job on a permanent basis. And according to a timeline provided by the reporter who broke the story, the New York Times's Maggie Haberman, Hicks spent a substantial portion of her tenure — perhaps as much as half of it — considering leaving.
Hope Hicks departure is NOT about yesterday's hearing, per multiple sources. She had planned it before, had been thinking about it for months. She had informed a very small number of people prior to Hill hearing that she planned to leave.— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) February 28, 2018
It was tempting to draw a line — as I and others speculated about — between Hicks's exit and two controversies: Her involvement in the Rob Porter scandal as both communications director and his girlfriend, and her House Intelligence Committee testimony Tuesday in which she admitted to telling white lies for Trump. If nothing else, the timing is suspicious for a resignation to come so close in proximity to each of those two things.
But consider the alternative. The alternative is that someone who has been in the White House for 13 months started thinking about leaving well shy of a year on the staff — and shortly after rising to one of the top jobs. The point: Regardless of which one it was, it doesn't portend good things or stability in the White House moving forward.
It's no secret the White House has become something of a revolving door for staff. Hicks was the fifth person designated as communications director and the third to hold the job on a non-interim basis. Trump has also already parted ways with a press secretary, a national security adviser, a chief strategist, a chief of staff (with his second, John Kelly, apparently on thin ice) and plenty of others.
Hicks was supposed to be different. Perhaps his longest-serving aide — dating back to before the campaign — she was someone who understood Trump and seemed to command his implicit trust. The White House would be a stressful job for anyone, but Hicks at least benefited from the kind of strong working relationship with Trump that other figures — especially those from the GOP establishment — clearly did not have.
She was not as familiar with politics as others, but in a White House in which conflicts with the boss are often the cause for early departures, Hicks made sense as a potential long-termer. Like Reince Priebus, Stephen K. Bannon, Sean Spicer and the rest, though, she has now proven a short-timer. Even fellow Trump loyalists like Keith Schiller have found the White House to be tough long-term employment.
Whether it's because of exhaustion in dealing with Trump or the exhaustion in dealing with Washington politics for outsiders like Hicks, or a combination, it seems Trump will have a difficult time maintaining anything resembling a core staff organization. And for a president who has struggled with consistency and is thought to be heavily reliant upon the last person he has spoken to, that's likely to lead to even more volatility.
We may yet learn more about Hicks's departure in the days to come. Nothing about it, though, suggests stability is over the horizon for the White House. If anything was stability for Trump, it was Hicks.