Shock as Trump’s confidant and communications director quits
WHITE House Communications Director Hope Hicks is stepping down from the job.
Ms Hicks, one of US President Donald Trump's closest confidants and advisers, confirmed she will be leaving the key White House role.
The New York Times, citing White House aides, said Ms Hicks told colleagues she had accomplished what she felt she could achieve in the job.
Ms Hicks was Mr Trump's spokeswoman during the 2016 presidential campaign, and has worked for the Trump family for years.
Her resignation leaves the White House searching for its fifth communications director in just over a year.
Ms Hicks replaced the ever controversial Anthony Scaramucci, who was sacked in July after just 11 days in the job. Before him Sean Spicer and Mike Dubke both had stints in the role.
The news of Ms Hicks' impending exit comes just a day after she was questioned behind closed doors for a gruelling nine hours by the House Intelligence Committee.
She admitted her job had entailed telling "white lies" for Mr Trump on occasion, but she insisted those lies were not related to the Russia investigation, according to sources who heard her testimony.
She was interviewed by the panel investigating Russia interference in the 2016 election and contact between Trump's campaign and Moscow.
While the timing of her resignation is suspicious, being so close to her testimony, New York Times White House correspondent Maggie Haberman reports Ms Hicks had been thinking about leaving for months and her departure is not related to the hearing.
Ms Hicks' departure will not be immediate.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed no timeline had been set for Hicks' departure.
She also denied any link between her decision and her questioning by a congressional panel probing Russian meddling in the election.
Washington Post National political reporter Robert Costa said Ms Hicks departure represented the end of an era in President Tump's inner circle.
Costa said Ms Hicks was more involved in his rise to power on a day-to-day basis than any other person.
In a written statement, Mr Trump praised Ms Hicks and wished her well in her future career.
"She is as smart and thoughtful as they come, a truly great person," Mr Trump said.
"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.
Ms Hicks in turn thanks the President and the administration team.
"There are no words to adequately express my gratitude to President Trump," she said in a statement.
"I wish the President and his administration the very best as he continues to lead our country."
Fox News political commentator Jesse Watters said Ms Hicks had the best reputation among all the Trump administration staff and that there wasn't anything negative about her leaked to the press.
First Daughter Ivanka Trump tweeted that Ms Hicks is "loved and admired by all who know her.
"It's with a heavy heart, but tremendous gratitude, that I wish her well in her next steps."
- with wires