White House Chief of Staff John Kelly’s departure from the West Wing is looking imminent after the administration offered up a half-hearted denial following reports that Kelly will leave his post by the end of the summer. But who might take his place? If the Washington rumor mill is to be believed, former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks is now a dark horse contender for the job.
The Daily Mail and Vanity Fair are the latest publications to jump on the Hicks bandwagon, reporting that Hicks has told confidants that she would absolutely be interested in the position, and that her name is rising up the list of possible candidates, which also includes Nick Ayers, Vice President Pence’s chief of staff, and Mick Mulvaney, the OMB chief who is essentially the Elon Musk of the Trump administration (a reference to his multiple roles running OMB and serving as acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau).
A source close to Hicks told the publication that she has told people she is open to the job if Trump asked, but is not pursuing it. Hicks declined to comment.
Meanwhile, supporters are lobbying for Hicks, a longtime Trump spokeswoman from both his private business and the campaign, to return to the administration after stepping down as White House Communications Director in March.
“Unlike any other candidate he may be considering, she doesn’t need a learning curve and possesses the most important qualities that the president cares about: loyalty, independence, and a calming presence during chaos,” conservative commentator Ryan Girdusky wrote for the Washington Examiner.
VF added that Hicks is being actively discussed, citing two sources from inside the administration.
Another dark-horse candidate is Hope Hicks. Two sources say Hicks’s name is being discussed inside the White House. According to a source close to Hicks, she has told people she is open to the job if Trump asked, but is not pursuing it. When I reached out, she declined to comment.
Hicks’ chances are bolstered by the fact that she’s an unabashed Trump loyalist, and would reportedly “help Trump connect with his base.”
In addition, hiring Hicks would be a historic move of sorts. She would be the first female White House chief of staff, as well as the youngest – helping Trump swat away critics who’ve accused him of being a misogynist. The president himself has helped stoke rumors by telling reporters that he’d love for Hicks to return to the White House, adding that “everybody misses” her.
“I love Hope.. I think everybody misses it, I think when they leave for a while,” Trump told reporters. “Many people would like to come back. Look, there is nothing more exciting than what we’re doing.”
As rumors of Kelly’s departure have metastasized, Trump has taken deliberate steps to publicly praise his chief of staff. Following reports about Kelly’s departure last week, Trump on Tuesday gave Kelly a shout-out while awarding a posthumous medal of honor, referring to his chief of staff as a “special man.” But with Kelly’s one-year anniversary just around the corner, it’s looking likely that his tour of duty in the White House is coming to a close.
The only question is: Would Hicks be up for the challenge of imposing discipline on an unruly West Wing that has resisted Kelly’s best efforts? (evidenced by the fact that a prank caller recently got through to President Trump while he was traveling on Air Force One)
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