SALT LAKE CITY — Two prominent Trump administration alumni took different turns in their relationship with the president Thursday. Former communications director Hope Hicks returned to the White House as a “counselor” to President Donald Trump, after her ex-boss former chief of staff John Kelly chastised Trump in a speech Wednesday night.
The president, as he often does, responded on Twitter.
The return of Hope
Hicks, known as the president’s confidant, is returning to the White House after a near two-year hiatus. Her new title will be “counselor to the president” and will be assigned to presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner’s staff, The New York Times reported Thursday.
“There is no one more devoted to implementing President Trump’s agenda than Hope Hicks,” Kushner said in a statement.
Hicks — who announced her resignation in 2018 after she testified to the House Intelligence Committee investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election — returns to a very different White House. She enters an administration in the midst of reelection, recovering from impeachment and acquittal, a divided Department of Justice and a new executive chief of staff.
Kelly blasts Trump on Vindman firing, immigration and North Korea
Kelly — fired in late 2018 — defended former National Security Counsel adviser Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman in a speech at Drew University in New Jersey Wednesday night, saying the impeachment witness was following his training, and was not “insubordinate” as Trump had accused.
“He did exactly what we teach them to do from cradle to grave,” said Kelly, a retired United States Marine Corps general, according to The Atlantic.
Vindman — who was fired last week — testified that the president’s “perfect” phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy had been inappropriate.
“He went and told his boss what he just heard,” said Kelly.
Kelly also told the crowd he disagreed with the scope of Trump’s immigration policy — which Kelly managed as secretary of Homeland Security before becoming chief of staff — and with the president’s personal approach to North Korean nuclear disarmament, according to The Atlantic.
Trump strikes back
The president lashed back at his former chief of staff Thursday morning.
“When I terminated John Kelly, which I couldn’t do fast enough, he knew full well that he was way over his head,” Trump tweeted. “Like so many X’s, he misses the action & just can’t keep his mouth shut, which he actually has a military and legal obligation to do.”
The president tweeted his ire not at the content of Kelly’s remarks, but to a perceived lack of fealty.
When I terminated John Kelly, which I couldn’t do fast enough, he knew full well that he was way over his head. Being Chief of Staff just wasn’t for him. He came in with a bang, went out with a whimper, but like so many X’s, he misses the action & just can’t keep his mouth shut,.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 13, 2020