A farewell to Hope: My email correspondence with Hope Hicks.

White House Communications Director Hope Hicks listens in as President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with state and local officials on school safety inside the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Feb. 22, 2018. Hicks, one of President Donald Trump’s longest-serving advisers, said on Feb. 28, that she was resigning. (Tom Brenner/The New York Times)

Good day Austin:

Did I suck you in with that headline? I hope so, because once I have your click, you can’t ever have it back.

But, in the interests of transparency, my email exchanges with Hicks mostly consisted of me confirming that I was on the press list for a Trump campaign rally, or asking for then-Mr. Trump’s reaction to something Ted Cruz was up to.

That said, I was very appreciative and a bit awestruck at her competence, and thankful that there was someone in the ultra-skeletal Trump campaign that one could have an email exchange with.

For example, an a Feb. 23, 2016, attempt to get in touch with his Texas campaign yielded this response:

Tilove, Jonathan (CMG-Austin),

A customer support staff member has replied to your support request, #237794 with the following response:

Mr. Tilove,

Thank you for reaching out to us. Please direct any media inquiries to Hope Hicks, who you can reach at hhicks@donaldtrump.com

Thank you.

We hope this response has sufficiently answered your questions. If not, please do not send another email. Instead, reply to this email or login to your account for a complete archive of all your support requests and responses.


By that time I had, since the fall of 2015, been emailing Hicks, who, as near as I could tell, was one of three people running the Trump campaign.

They were:

1- Donald Trump.

2 – Campaign Manager Corey Lewandowski.

3 – Hope Hicks.

FILE– Hope Hicks, then a spokeswoman for President-elect Donald Trump, in the lobby of Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in New York, Dec. 12, 2016. (Sam Hodgson/The New York Times)

Somehow, I had figured that as the campaign grew, that circle would grow. But, not so much.

And why should it. Hicks’ operation was model of competence.

She would send out a schedule of Trump rallies – and really the campaign was just a series of rallies and the coverage that attended them.

A reporter could click on the rallies you wanted to attend. You would receive a confirmation email. You would show up at the rally. Your name would be on the list. And you’d be there for Trump pointing to the bad people in the back from the Fake News media.

If, for some reason, you didn’t get your confirmation email, you could check with Hicks and she would fix it.

It sounds simple, and it was, but I’d never run into a campaign that operated so flawlessly.

Well, as you know, Hicks joined President Trump in the White House, ended up as his communications director and then, poof, as of yesterday she announced she was leaving

WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 27: White House Communications Director and presidential advisor Hope Hicks (2nd L) arrives at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center February 27, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

I knew something bad was afoot when I saw this photo of her with Robert Trout, the gentleman by her side.

Trout is a great guy and a wonderful attorney, just the right person to have by your side if, for example, the FBI finds $90,000 in marked bills in your freezer – as was the case with former U.S. Rep. William Jefferson of New Orleans – or if, as in the case of Hicks, you may have told some “white lies” on behalf of President Trump.

Along with my colleague, Bruce Alpert, in 2009 I covered the eight-week corruption  trial of Jefferson in Alexandria, Va., that led to a 13-year prison sentence.

On Dec. 1, Bruce and I went back to the courtroom to see U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III re-sentence Jefferson, with Trout once again at his side, to time served.

I was saddened by Hicks’ departure, and annoyed by some of the coverage, especially  Lawrence O’Donnell’s ultra-snide report  on his MSNBC show.

The white liar is out.

She has now made Sean Spicer look like a master by comparison.

Yeah, right.


She now takes her place in history as both the youngest and the worst communications director in history.

Really? I heard that Andrew Johnson’s press shop really sucked.

And, as I recall, Hicks never became the object of a Sean Spicer/Sarah Huckabee Sanders mockable character on SNL.

She’s 29-years-old and showed the colossally bad judgment and utter lack of professionalism to become romantically involved with White House aide, Rob Porter who two previous wives accused of domestic violence … She fought to save her boyfriend’s job … No White House communications director has ever had a worse episode on the job than that.


Well, OK. Nobody’s perfect.

(During the campaign) She actually got caught by reporters on the streets of Manhattan having a lover’s quarrel with the married man (Lewandowski) she was having an affair with.

Well, yeah, campaigns are tough on marriages.

Then, O’Donnell said Hicks lasted as long as she did because the White House press corps “fell for her.”


Hope Hicks cast a special spell on White House reporters.


You will not see a moment like this with Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Ok, enough with sourpuss O’Donnell.

Far better to read Olivia Nuzzi.

And, for the record, I have never kissed Hope Hicks. I have never hugged Hope Hicks. I have never even met Hope Hicks or spoken to her on the phone.

Our relationship has entirely been by email, and for most of our relationship I had never seen a photo of her or had any idea of what she looked like.


FILE– White House Communications Director Hope Hicks, left, and Dina Powell, a deputy national security advisor, step off Air Force One upon arrival to Morristown Municipal Airport in Morristown, N.J., Sept. 15, 2017.

However, we did once share holiday greetings.

Tilove, Jonathan (CMG-Austin)

Fri 1/1/2016 12:37 PM

To: hhicks@donaldtrump.com;
Hi. Happy New Year.
Just wanted to make sure I’m on your press list.
Heading up to Iowa tomorrow and will be there much of the month so want to make sure I know about any appearances there, and who is handling communications for the campaign in Iowa.
Thanks very much.
Jonathan Tilove

On Jan 1, 2016, at 12:38 PM, Hope Hicks <hhicks@donaldtrump.com> wrote:

You will be added if you are not already.

Sent from my iPhone

FILE– Hope Hicks, then a spokeswoman for President-elect Donald Trump’s transition office, arrives at Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in New York, Jan. 2, 2017.

Ten days later there was this email, on which I coped Katrina Pierson, but that’s a whole other story.
Tilove, Jonathan (CMG-Austin)

Mon 1/11/2016 8:09 PM
To:Hope Hicks <hhicks@donaldtrump.com>;
Hope,  Katrina:

I interviewed William Johnson, the gentleman behind the white nationalist robocalls in Iowa supporting Mr. Trump.

Just checking if you had any comment on the calls.

Thanks very much,

Jonathan Tilove

Austin American-Statesman

I don’t think I got a response to that one.

A couple of weeks later, there was this inquiry.

Tilove, Jonathan (CMG-Austin)
Mon 1/25/2016 12:53 PM
To:Hope Hicks <hhicks@donaldtrump.com>;

I called Sam Clovis to talk to him about Mr. Trump’s conservative credentials and he said I should clear it first with you. Is it OK to talk with Sam?

Thanks very much,

Jonathan Tilove

Austin American-Statesman

I can’t find her answer, but I remember that she promptly responded in the affirmative and the next day I wrote a First Reading that included an interview with Clovis, who in August 2015 had gone from being the chairman of Rick Perry’s campaign in Iowa to the national co-chair of Trump’s presidential campaign.


As I wrote then:

Clovis is a big man with a big, infectious laugh, and it is plain that he has no regrets about signing on with Trump.

Of Trump, Clovis said, “He has reached deep within the soul of the American people.”

Of those who claim that Trump will under-perform in the caucuses because his fans, many of whom have never participated before, are unlikely to turn out, Clovis says:

They’re going to stand in line in subzero – not subfreezing but in subzero temperatures — for five hours to get into a gymnasium to wait two more hours to hear people talk for another hour and a half, you’re going to tell me they are not going to come out to caucus? I think we are going to have such a huge night it will be historic.

I’ve been watching politics since I was 7 years old, and I’ve never seen anything like this. This is not your father’s campaign, and I couldn’t be happier, and I couldn’t be prouder. We’re changing politics in America, and I think that’s something we’ve needed for a long time.

After Perry’s bid fizzled, Clovis said, “I had seen the last straw with a classic politician. I just felt like Mr. Trump was different. I felt that if we went with another traditional politician, we weren’t going to see anything change, and I honestly don’t think we will, if anyone other than Donald Trump wins.”

Clovis dismisses the idea that Trump should be more specific. He said Cruz put out a 17-page tax plan and he hasn’t found anyone who knows what’s in it. He says a lot of the other candidate’s issue foreign policy threats that are premature and ill-advised.

“We’re going to defend the national interest,” he said, but with a “more deliberative approach.”

Of Cruz’s criticism that Trump’s readiness to make deals means he will forsake conservative principles as president, Clovis said, “God love him, Sen. Cruz is a good guy, but’”with how his Senate colleagues perceive him, I think it would be difficult for him to get anything done. I think Mr. Trump is a very tough negotiator.”

Trump’s deal-making will be about giving in but about getting things done.

(Trump struck this theme relentlessly on Morning Joe this morning. Of Cruz, “I don’t think anybody likes him … he’s a whack job … Ted’s a nasty guy … he won’t get anything done … he’s a more strident loner than Obama.” Trump even boasted of his good relationship with Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer, not a usual Republican talking point.)

I asked Clovis if there are a lot of people who don’t talk to him any more since he went with Trump.

Some, he said, but there are others who talk to him now who didn’t used to.

“It’s zero sum,” said Clovis, an economics professor at Morningside College.

But Clovis said, “I don’t have to keep score. Here’s the thing. I’m too old to care anymore. Either they get me or they don’t get me.”

Well, just as for Hicks, things for Clovis didn’t end well.

From the New York Times Eileen Sullivan on Nov. 2: Trump Nominee Sam Clovis Withdraws From Consideration for Agriculture Department Post

A former Trump campaign aide dropped out of the running on Thursday for a senior position at the Department of Agriculture three days after his name was tied to a former campaign foreign policy adviser who pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. over his contacts with Russia.

The campaign aide, Sam Clovis, told President Trump that he decided to withdraw from consideration to be the chief scientist at the Department of Agriculture, the White House said.

“The political climate inside Washington has made it impossible for me to receive balanced and fair consideration for this position,” Mr. Clovis wrote in a letter on Wednesday to Mr. Trump. Mr. Clovis’s qualifications to be the chief scientist at the department have been questioned, as he is not a scientist himself. “The relentless assaults on you and your team seem to be a blood sport that only increases in intensity each day.”

Mr. Clovis’s request to drop out of consideration is the latest blow to the Trump administration that for months has been dogged by the special counsel investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. Mr. Clovis, an early campaign adviser, has met with the special counsel’s team.

On Monday, it was disclosed that Mr. Clovis discussed the Trump campaign’s priorities for relations with Russia with the foreign policy adviser, George Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty last month to lying to the F.B.I. about his communications with Russian officials during the 2016 presidential campaign, according to interviews and court papers.

Mr. Clovis was among the Trump campaign officials who knew that Mr. Papadopoulos was developing contacts in Moscow and trying to to arrange a meeting for Mr. Trump in Russia.

“Great work,” Mr. Clovis wrote in a March 2016 email to Mr. Papadopoulos. Mr. Clovis, an economics professor, Tea Party activist and Air Force veteran, helped supervise the foreign policy team.

My best exchange with Hicks came in response to this cover story in the National Enquirer.


Tilove, Jonathan (CMG-Austin)

Fri 3/25/2016 1:07 PM

Sent Items



Hope –

Hi. Sen. Cruz blames the Enquirer story on Mr. Trump and “his henchmen.”

Is there any truth to that?

Thanks very much,

Jonathan Tilove

Austin American-Statesman

Thirty-five minutes I had my answer.

From: Hope Hicks <hhicks@donaldtrump.com>
Sent: Friday, March 25, 2016 1:42 PM
To: Tilove, Jonathan (CMG-Austin)
Subject: Re: Enquirer story

Donald J. Trump Responds to Cruz Accusations on National Enquirer Story

“I have no idea whether or not the cover story about Ted Cruz in this week’s issue of the National Enquirer is true or not, but I had absolutely nothing to do with it, did not know about it, and have not, as yet, read it.  I have nothing to do with the National Enquirer and unlike Lyin’ Ted Cruz I do not surround myself with political hacks and henchman and then pretend total innocence. Ted Cruz’s problem with the National Enquirer is his and his alone, and while they were right about O.J. Simpson, John Edwards, and many others, I certainly hope they are not right about Lyin’ Ted Cruz. I look forward to spending the week in Wisconsin, winning the Republican nomination and ultimately the Presidency in order to Make America Great Again. “

– Donald J. Trump

And, at  2:22 pm. I posted my story:

The nasty Republican campaign for president took an even more bitter personal turn Friday with U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz blasting a National Enquirer story insinuating that he had a series of extramarital affairs as “garbage,” and blaming “Sleazy Donald,” as he dubbed Donald Trump, for planting it.

“Let me be clear: This National Enquirer story is garbage. It is complete and utter lies,” Cruz said while campaigning in Wisconsin, which votes April 5 and where polls indicate he is locked in a tight race with Trump.

“It is a tabloid smear, and it is a smear that has come from Donald Trump and his henchmen,” Cruz said.

Trump denied any involvement, issuing a statement with a trademark dose of mock empathy.

Ted Cruz’s problem with the National Enquirer is his and his alone, and while they were right about O.J. Simpson, John Edwards, and many others, I certainly hope they are not right about Lyin’ Ted Cruz,” Trump said.

At a news conference, Cruz said the Enquirer story was choreographed to cap a couple of days of Trump tweets targeting Cruz’s wife, Heidi. Those tweets were in retaliation for a Facebook ad by an anti-Trump super PAC unaffiliated with the Cruz campaign featuring a risque British GQ cover photo of Trump’s wife, Melania, from her days as a model.

Trump tweeted, “Be careful, Lyin’ Ted, or I will spill the beans on your wife!” and, the next day, retweeted a meme with an unflattering photo of Heidi Cruz next to a flattering photo of his wife.

“Donald, you’re a sniveling coward and leave Heidi the hell alone,” Cruz said Thursday in Wisconsin.

The Enquirer that hit newsstands Friday included lurid headlines about Cruz’s alleged five affairs, but the story was built entirely on rumors.

“Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz is the target of a vicious `dirty tricks’ campaign!” the story begins. “Political operatives are compiling an explosive `dirt file’ on the finger-wagging, conservative senator from Texas, the National Enquirer has learned.”

The story had been promoted in advance, but, after a day bouncing around the Twitter-sphere without gaining mainstream traction, Cruz brought up the story with reporters Friday.

“One question Americans are asking all over this country is, `How low will Donald go, is there not a level to which he is unwilling to stoop?’” Cruz asked. “To date we have not seen it.”Cruz said that David Pecker, CEO of American Media Inc., the owner of Star Magazine and the National Enquirer, backs Trump’s presidential bid, and, “it is a story that quoted one source on the record: Roger Stone, Donald Trump’s chief political adviser.

“And what is striking is Donald’s henchman, Roger Stone, had for months been foreshadowing that this attack was coming,” Cruz said.

“One man’s dirty trick is another man’s quest for the truth,” Stone told the American-Statesman. Stone long has been close to Trump, but he left the campaign in August and has no formal role, though he and Trump still talk and, in a variety of ways, he looks out for Trump’s interests.

In a March 14 interview with Austin-based broadcaster Alex Jones, Stone talked about a coming Cruz sex scandal.

Stone is also the author of recent books arguing that Lyndon B. Johnson had John F. Kennedy killed, that the Bushes are a “crime family,” and that Bill Clinton was a sexual abuser and Hillary Clinton his enabler, that last book co-written with Austin’s Robert Morrow, the profane conspiracy theorist whose recent surprise election as Travis County Republican Party chairman drew national attention.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, right, speaks his campaign communications manager Hope Hicks, left, as he arrives for service at First Presbyterian Church in Muscatine, Iowa, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016.

I asked Hicks other questions, most of which she didn’t reply to.

Tilove, Jonathan (CMG-Austin)
Tue 3/29/2016 12:44 PM
To:Hope Hicks <hhicks@donaldtrump.com>;

I am writing something about the attempt by Cruz to fill Trump delegate slots with folks loyal to them and secure spots on the Rules/Credentials/Platform committees.

Who would be best for me to talk with about efforts to secure those delegate slots for Mr. Trump – Barry Bennett, Ed Brookover, Paul Manafort?

Thanks very much,


Don’t think I got a reply to that, but I ended up talking to Barry Bennett for my story.

FILE — Hope Hicks, the White House communications director, during a news conference in Tokyo, Nov. 6, 2017.

I don’t think she replied to this one either.

Tilove, Jonathan (CMG-Austin)
Wed 4/27/2016 3:16 PM
 To:Hope Hicks <hhicks@donaldtrump.com>;
Hope –

Any comment on Cruz’s choice of Carly Fiorina?



Don’t think I got a reply on that.

Tilove, Jonathan (CMG-Austin)
Thu 5/26/2016 11:27 AM

Or this one:

To:Hope Hicks <hhicks@donaldtrump.com>;
Hope, Katrina:

I am writing something looking forward to the convention and the role that Sen. Cruz and his delegates may play.

It appears that Cruz is continuing to accumulate delegates, as at Washington State’s convention last week, even though, as per the Washington primary results Tuesday, those delegates are bound to vote for Mr. Trump. Is that continuing effort a source of concern?

Do you expect Sen. Cruz’s name to be placed in nomination at the convention and his votes counted on the first ballot?

Do you expect Sen. Cruz to speak at the convention?

Do you expect Sen. Cruz to endorse Mr. Trump?

Thanks very much,
Jonathan Tilove
Austin American-Statesman

Or this one to Hicks and Josh Jones, the Trump campaign’s man in Texas.

George P. Bush as Texas Victory chairman

Tilove, Jonathan (CMG-Austin)
Thu 6/9/2016 11:08 AM
Hope Hicks <hhicks@donaldtrump.com>;
Hope, Josh:

Hi. I’m writing a story about Texas Republican State Party Chair Tom Mechler naming Land Commissioner George P. Bush to be 2016 Victory Chairman, which means he and his top aide will be leading the fundraising and directing the party’s statewide campaign activities for the general election. Tom Pauken, who is a Trump delegate from Texas and former party chairman, thought it was an odd choice because he would be relying on Bush networks that might not give it their all for Mr. Trump, and that he thought Mechler should  have consulted with the Trump campaign and perhaps made a better choice.

I didn’t know whether the campaign shared this concern.

Thanks very much,

Jonathan Tilove

Austin American-Statesman

There were as flurry of emailed questions when Trump came to Austin to campaign in August 2016, including a request for a one-on-one interview, but I don’t recall interviewing Trump, so I think that came to naught.

Tilove, Jonathan (CMG-Austin
Mon 8/22/2016 11:46 AM
 To:Hope Hicks <hhicks@donaldtrump.com>;
Hope –


The message I received from Ashley said to check with you about Mr. Trump’s availability. So yes, if he is available at any point during his Texas visit for an interview, please let me know.

Thanks very much,

Jonathan Tilove

Austin American-Statesman

It appears that my last missive to Hicks was about Alex Jones.

Tilove, Jonathan (CMG-Austin)
Wed 10/19/2016 8:39 AM
 To:Hope Hicks <hhicks@donaldtrump.com>;

Hi. I’m writing about Austin’s Alex Jones and the influence he has had on Mr. Trump in the campaign, an influence that  the Clinton campaign has assailed.

Any comment?

Thanks very much,

Jonathan Tilove

Austin American-Statesman

So that’s it, except to say so long, Hope. Good luck. And thanks.

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