From the Left



Hope Hicks told the truth about lying for Trump. Now she's gone.

Dana Milbank on

WASHINGTON -- For a brief but glorious moment, we had Hope.

On Tuesday, White House communications director Hope Hicks did what for the Trump White House was extraordinary, if not unprecedented: She admitted to lawmakers that working for President Trump required her to lie.

On Wednesday, she announced her resignation.

There was no connection made between those two events by Hicks or by the president in announcing her departure, which was characterized as entirely voluntary and under consideration for some time. Yet, whether the two events were connected or not, Hicks had done something that is incompatible with serving in this administration: She told the truth about the lies.

Trump has been racking up whoppers faster than Norwegians won Olympic medals. The Washington Post's Fact Checker team, which has had to staff up to keep pace with the prodigious presidential output, clocks him averaging nearly 5.9 false or misleading claims a day. Those around him, in turn, are forced to lie as they repeat the president's untruths, or to justify his falsehoods. There are lies, damned lies -- and then there is the Trump administration.

Perhaps inadvertently, Hicks drew attention to this when the 29-year-old former model and fashion adviser to Ivanka Trump, who had no experience in politics before joining the Trump campaign, spoke about lying for Trump. To be sure, Hicks admitted only to telling "white lies," as the New York Times put it, and "after extended consultation with her lawyers" she asserted that she had not lied about the Russia probe.

Still, this is a considerable admission, for when you are the communications director for the president of the United States, your white lies are rather more consequential than the usual white lies of the "yes, I'm listening," "you look great" and "I was stuck in traffic" variety.

What's important is Hicks recognized she was lying.

It's exceedingly rare for an official in the Trump White House to admit to making a false statement, and even then it is almost always blamed on incomplete information. To admit to lying -- that is, knowing the truth but saying the opposite -- means Hicks knew the difference between fact and fiction.

The president, I'm convinced, doesn't see such a distinction. He believes what he is saying in the moment -- whatever it is -- even if it is easily disproved or contradicts what he has said previously. Hence, he isn't necessarily "lying." He just may not know truth from fiction -- which is hardly reassuring.


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