- Hope Hicks, the former White House communications director, played a central role in the White House’s handling of the fallout from the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Trump campaign officials and a Kremlin-linked lawyer.
- Hicks told special counsel Robert Mueller that she was “shocked” by emails sent between Donald Trump Jr. and a music publicist who helped set up the meeting as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”
- Hicks also made the case that Trump Jr. should “get in front of the story” by releasing the emails to the press as part of an interview with “softball questions.” But Trump said no.
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Hope Hicks, who left her position as White House communications director and top confidante to President Donald Trump early last year, played a central role in the White House’s handling of media reports in July 2017 that members of Trump’s inner circle met with a Russian official promising “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in June 2016.
By the first week of June 2017, White House and Trump campaign officials became aware of emails sent between Donald Trump Jr. and Rob Goldstone, a music publicist who helped set up a Trump Tower meeting as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”
Trump Jr. famously responded to Goldstone on the chain, “if it’s what you say I love it.”
Hicks told Mueller that she discussed the emails between Trump Jr. and Goldstone with the president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, and son-in-law, Jared Kusher in June 2017. She then attended a meeting with Kushner, Ivanka Trump, and the president in the White House residence on or about June 22.
Hicks said that Kushner attempted to tell the president about the Trump Tower meeting and related emails, but that Trump “stopped Kushner and said he did not want to know about it, shutting the conversation down,” the report found.
Less than a week later – on June 28 – Hicks viewed the emails in Kushner’s lawyer’s office. Mueller wrote that Hicks was “shocked” by the messages because they “looked really bad” and, the next day, privately met with the president to discuss them.
Trump told Hicks that he was upset that so many people knew about the emails and claimed that the emails wouldn’t leak, unless “everyone had access to them.”
Later that same day, Hicks, Kushner, and Ivanka Trump all met with the president. Hicks made the case that Trump Jr. should “get in front of the story” by releasing the emails to the press as part of an interview with “softball questions.” But Trump said no.
“Hicks warned the President that the emails were ‘really bad’ and the story would be ‘massive’ when it broke, but the President was insistent that he did not want to talk about it and they should not go to the press,” Mueller wrote in the report.
Trump directed Hicks and other aides not to publicly release the emails.
Trump dictated a statement about the June 9 meeting, claiming that the meeting was about adoption, which was issued in Trump Jr.’s name, Mueller found. (Trump admitted in August 2018 that he knew that compromising information about Hillary Clinton had been discussed at the 2016 meeting).
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that the president “certainly didn’t dictate” Trump Jr.’s statement in June 2018.
Trump told the special counsel in his written answers that he had “no recollection of learning of the meeting or the emails setting it up at the time the meeting occurred or at any other time before the election.” Trump has publicly denied knowing about the meeting before June 2017.
On November 10, 2016 – two days after the presidential election – Hicks, the former Trump campaign spokesperson, told reporters, “We are not aware of any campaign representatives that were in touch with any foreign entities before yesterday, when Mr. Trump spoke with many world leaders.”