When President Donald Trump asked Hope Hicks to step into the role of communications director, his longtime aide hesitated before taking on a management position overseeing more than 40 staffers who work in White House media relations.
It was Hicks who insisted on “interim” being part of her new job title before accepting the post, according to a person familiar with the negotiations. But since her appointment on Aug. 16 – when Ivanka Trump went on Twitter to congratulate her “talented friend & colleague Hope Hicks on being named WH Communications Director,” leaving out any mention of the “interim” part – no active search has been launched to find a more permanent successor to the short-lived Anthony Scaramucci era.
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After a summer of distracting staff churn, the communications director job is just one of a number of top-level West Wing positions that has ultimately been filled by an existing staffer – or not filled at all – after an official has quit or been let go.
Interviews with six White House staffers and people close to the president attribute Trump’s shrinking West Wing to three factors: chief of staff John Kelly’s careful review process, which has led to the paring down of an organization that many inside have complained was top-heavy; the chilling factor of five open-ended Russia investigations hanging over the White House, making it hard to attract new talent; and the president’s own dark mood this summer, which has left him increasingly isolated and in the mood to hunker down, not hire up.
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