Amid continuing fallout from the Rob Porter scandal, Donald Trump has come to the defense of longtime confidante and White House communications director Hope Hicks, despite reports that the President was growing frustrated with her role in the situation.
"Hope is absolutely fantastic," Trump said in a statement to The New York Times released through a spokesperson Friday. "She was with the campaign from the beginning, and I could not ask for anything more. Hope is smart, very talented and respected by all."
People familiar with the matter told CNN Friday that the President was dismayed by the handling of the abuse allegations against Porter, with whom Hicks is romantically involved. Trump was not consulted when Hicks and several other aides drafted a White House statement defending Porter, and he was under the impression that Hicks had let her relationship with Porter cloud her judgment, a source familiar with the matter said. In the aftermath, Trump told associates he felt that Hicks put her own priorities ahead of his.
Hicks is one of the President's longest-serving White House confidantes, lasting through numerous campaign and White House shakeups. Stephen Miller, Trump's senior adviser and chief speechwriter, described her as having "a loyalty equaled only by her skill."
Hicks joined the Trump campaign as the press secretary in 2015. Prior to that, she worked for the Trump Organization and for Ivanka Trump's fashion and lifestyle brand.
The eldest Trump daughter, who serves as an adviser to the President, also issued a defense of her former employee. Ivanka Trump told the Times that Hicks was a "team player" and "the president has deep respect for her, cares about her greatly, and listens to her. That's not true of everyone. She's earned that."