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Political Notebook

Hope Hicks, former top aide to Trump, to return to the White House as reelection campaign heats up

President Trump posed with Hope Hicks on her last day as White House communications director in March 2018.
President Trump posed with Hope Hicks on her last day as White House communications director in March 2018. Andrew Harnik/Associated Press/File/Associated Press

WASHINGTON — One of President Trump’s longest-serving aides and closest confidantes is returning to the White House after leaving in 2018.

Hope Hicks, the president’s former communications director who served an outsize role in the White House and spent many hours a day in the Oval Office, will rejoin the administration, officials said Thursday.

She will work for Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and political adviser, the White House said, on political affairs and other ‘‘strategic’’ matters. She will not be part of the White House communications shop.

‘‘There is no one more devoted to implementing President Trump’s agenda than Hope Hicks. We are excited to have her back on the team,’’ Kushner said.

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Hicks left the White House to become a senior executive at New Fox in California and had embraced a different life, people close to her said. She wrestled with the whether to return to Washington for weeks, trying to decide if she wanted to leave a lucrative salary and a quieter life to return to the fray, according to people who discussed the matter with her and spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the private conversations. She was repeatedly courted by Kushner and the president who argued to Hicks that they needed her for the reelection, a person with knowledge of the discussions said.

Also returning to the White House is Trump’s former personal assistant John McEntee, who will serve as head of presidential personnel, according to a senior administration official.

McEntee lost his White House job in March 2018 because an investigation found he was a frequent gambler whose habit posed a security risk, two people familiar with his departure said at the time.

Hicks began working for Trump before he announced his candidacy and had been a trusted confidante for three years, shaping his image and counseling him on nearly all matters, from the substantive to the trivial. The president would regularly yell for Hicks to come into the Oval Office.

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Hicks exerted extraordinary influence in Washington and the president treated her almost as a surrogate daughter even as other aides said she knew little about policy.

But she left the administration in 2018 after she drew scrutiny from an investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller III, and her personal relationship with Rob Porter, who left his job as White House staff secretary after the Daily Mail reported that his former wives accused him of abuse.

Hicks had admitted to a House committee that she told ‘‘white lies’’ on the president’s behalf, and that she was involved in crafting a misleading statement on Air Force One about a meeting between Trump family members and Russians in Trump Tower.

Washington Post

Trump, Bloomberg trade Twitter taunts

President Trump and former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, two septuagenarians seeking the White House, traded middle-school-like taunts on Thursday, focused on one candidate’s height and the other’s popularity with his peers.

The exchange offered fresh evidence that Bloomberg, a Democratic aspirant who is skipping the first few nominating contests, is more willing than others in the field to engage Trump on his terms and on his favorite playing field: Twitter.

‘‘Mini Mike is a 5’4’’ mass of dead energy who does not want to be on the debate stage with these professional politicians,’’ Trump wrote to his 72.4 million followers in a tweet that understated Bloomberg’s reported height by four inches. ‘‘No boxes please. He hates Crazy Bernie and will, with enough money, possibly stop him. Bernie’s people will go nuts!’’

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Trump’s tweet, of course, was referencing Senator Bernie Sanders, who has emerged as the leading liberal candidate in the Democratic contest following the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary.

Shortly afterward, Bloomberg, 77, sought to show he could return a punch against Trump, 73, who had made his name in the New York real estate world.

‘‘.@realDonaldTrump — we know many of the same people in NY,’’ Bloomberg tweeted to his 2.5 million followers. ‘‘Behind your back they laugh at you & call you a carnival barking clown. They know you inherited a fortune & squandered it with stupid deals and incompetence. I have the record & the resources to defeat you. And I will.’’

Bloomberg did not directly address an earlier tweet Thursday in which Trump called him ‘‘a LOSER’’ and said his low energy level reminded him of Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida who was among the Republican White House hopefuls defeated by Trump in 2016.

Washington Post

Trump may drop officials from foreign calls

WASHINGTON — President Trump said Thursday that he might end the long-running practice of letting other administration officials listen in on presidential calls with foreign leaders. That’s after Trump’s impeachment was triggered by his July phone call with the president of Ukraine.

“I may end the practice entirely,” Trump told Geraldo Rivera in a radio interview that aired Thursday.

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and White House staffers listened in on Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. In it, Trump asked the foreign leader to look into Ukraine’s alleged involvement in the 2016 presidential election and the activities of Democrat Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who served on the board of a Ukrainian energy company.

As is standard practice in any administration, White House staffers, working in the secure, soundproof Situation Room in the West Wing basement, listened in and chronicled the conversation. National Security Council personnel then prepared a memorandum about the call, which serves as an official record.

Associated Press