Newly appointed White House communications director Hope Hicks has earned Donald Trump’s trust, with her unflinching loyalty and “special bond” with the President.
She has developed a reputation as the “Trump Whisperer” among aide circles who often rely on Ms Hicks’ judgement to determine whether it’s a good time to speak with the President.
The 28-year-old is one of Mr Trump’s longest-serving aides and is now the youngest to ever lead the White House communications team.
Ms Hicks is among the top 20 highest-earning White House staff, raking in a salary of $US179,700 ($A223,650) a year, comparable with that of Counsellor to the President, Kellyanne Conway.
It’s a substantial salary for someone whose credentials up until the election campaign included celebrity public relations, childhood model and lacrosse champion.
Given her long-time relationship with the Trump family, one White House official described Ms Hicks as “untouchable” while another said she was the President’s “emotional support”, CNN reported.
How Hicks came to meet the Trumps
Ms Hicks has had close ties to the Trump family dating back to 2012 when the public relations firm she was working for at the time was representing Ivanka Trump’s luxury fashion lines and the Trump Organisation, according to the New York Times.
It was at her former workplace, Hiltzik Strategies, where she gained experience in representing Hollywood clients and corporate executives.
She was a self-professed political novice when she accepted a communications role for the Trump election campaign in early 2015.
But Ms Hicks was kept in Mr Trump’s inner circles after his presidency.
She later stepped in as the interim White House communications director when Anthony Scaramucci was fired just 10 days into his role in July.
“Her most important role is her bond with the candidate,” veteran Republican adviser Paul Manafort told the NYT during the campaign.
“She totally understands him.”
‘Hopester, you’re the greatest’
Mr Trump first introduced her to the world as “a little shy” but “really really talented”.
Mr Trump has been known to call her by the overly familiar ‘Hopester’, and she displays a handwritten ‘thank you’ note from the President himself above her Trump Tower desk which reads: “Hopie – You’re the greatest!”, according to politics news outlet Politico.
The pair also shares an interest in golf.
The President sent the Hicks family flowers when Hope’s grandmother died last year, while Ms Hicks’ parents have accepted invites to visit Mr Trump’s exclusive Florida resort Mar-a-Lago.
i think i can honestly say this is the first time i've heard hope hicks speak pic.twitter.com/HuidZhCNVk
— David Mack (@davidmackau) December 17, 2016
Meanwhile, Ivanka Trump has described Ms Hicks as a “brilliant, kind and wickedly funny friend”, indicating that her relationship with the Trump family may be more personal than merely professional.
She added in a NYT interview: “My father makes people earn his trust. She’s earned his trust.”
It might also be notable that Ms Hicks was once a model, given Melania Trump and Ivanka Trump’s history in the modelling industry. Ms Hicks modelled for Ralph Lauren during her childhood and for the Ford Modelling Agency as a teenager.
— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) January 4, 2017
The weekend after the 2016 US election, Ms Hicks – off-the-clock – instinctively defended the President when she overheard negative comments about his victory while at a Bermuda golf club for a family wedding.
“I promise, he’s a good person,” telling them not to worry, witnesses told Politico.
Ms Hicks is the third generation in her family to represent a greatly controversial yet powerful client. Her grandfather led public relations for Texaco during the 1970s oil crisis, while her father represented a major tobacco company in Connecticut.