WASHINGTON - Hope Hicks, the White House communications director and one of President Donald Trump's longest-serving and closest political advisers, said Wednesday that she is leaving the administration sometime in the next few weeks.
Hicks, 29, began working for Trump before he announced his candidacy and has been a constant at his side over the past three years, managing his public image and advising him on policy and other matters. A political neophyte, Hicks exerted extraordinary influence in the White House as arguably Trump's most trusted aide.
The announcement of her departure comes one day after Hicks testified for a full day Tuesday before the House Intelligence Committee in its investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Her exit was first reported by The New York Times.
Officials said Hicks had decided in recent weeks to leave the administration and told Trump she wanted to explore opportunities outside of the government.
"There are no words to adequately express my gratitude to President Trump," Hicks said in a statement. "I wish the President and his administration the very best as he continues to lead our country."
In his own statement, Trump said, "Hope is outstanding and has done great work for the last three years. She is as smart and thoughtful as they come, a truly great person. I will miss having her by my side but when she approached me about pursuing other opportunities, I totally understood. I am sure we will work together again in the future."
Hicks arrived in Washington as an unconventional press staffer managing Trump's personal image and his interactions with reporters but quickly assumed more responsibility in the West Wing. Last summer, she was named communications director, overseeing a staff of dozens and responsible for the administration's overall communications strategy.
White House chief of staff John Kelly praised Hicks and said her leadership in the West Wing will be missed.
"When I became Chief of Staff, I quickly realized what so many have learned about Hope - she is strategic, poised and wise beyond her years," Hicks said. "She became a trusted adviser and counselor and did a tremendous job overseeing the communications for the President's agenda including the passage of historic tax reform. She has served her country with great distinction. To say that she will be missed, is an understatement."