Hope Hicks warned Trump that Don Jr.'s emails setting up the Trump Tower meeting were 'really bad,' but the president told her not to go to the press

Mark Wallheiser/Getty ImagesPresident Donald Trump and Hope Hicks.
  • Hope Hicks, the former White House communications director, played a central role in the White House’s handling of the fallout from the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Trump campaign officials and a Kremlin-linked lawyer.
  • Hicks told the special counsel Robert Mueller that she was “shocked” by emails sent between Donald Trump Jr. and a music publicist who helped set up the meeting as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”
  • Hicks also made the case that Trump Jr. should “get in front of the story” by releasing the emails to the press as part of an interview with “softball questions.” But Trump said no.
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Hope Hicks, who left her position as White House communications director and top confidante to President Donald Trump last year, played a central role in the White House’s handling of media reports in July 2017 that members of Trump’s inner circle met with a Russian official promising “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in June 2016.

By the first week of June 2017, White House and Trump campaign officials became aware of emails sent between Donald Trump Jr. and Rob Goldstone, a music publicist who helped set up a Trump Tower meeting as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”

Trump Jr. notoriously responded to Goldstone on the chain, “if it’s what you say I love it.”

Hicks told Mueller that she discussed the emails between Trump Jr. and Goldstone with the president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, in June 2017. She then attended a meeting with Kushner, Ivanka Trump, and the president in the White House residence on or around June 22.


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Hicks said that Kushner attempted to tell the president about the Trump Tower meeting and related emails, but that Trump “stopped Kushner and said he did not want to know about it, shutting the conversation down,” the report said.

Less than a week later – on June 28 – Hicks viewed the emails in the office of Kushner’s lawyer. Mueller wrote that Hicks was “shocked” by the messages because they “looked really bad” and privately met with the president the next day to discuss them.

Trump told Hicks that he was upset that so many people knew about the emails and said that the emails wouldn’t leak unless “everyone had access to them.”

Later that same day, Hicks, Kushner, and Ivanka Trump all met with the president. Hicks made the case that Trump Jr. should “get in front of the story” by releasing the emails to the press as part of an interview with “softball questions.” But Trump said no.

“Hicks warned the President that the emails were ‘really bad’ and the story would be ‘massive’ when it broke, but the President was insistent that he did not want to talk about it and they should not go to the press,” Mueller wrote in the report.

Trump directed Hicks and other aides not to publicly release the emails.

On July 8, 2017, The New York Times reported the existence of the meeting. And on July 11, The Times published a report about the emails.

Trump dictated a statement about the June 9 meeting, saying that the meeting was about adoption, which was issued in Trump Jr.’s name, Mueller found. (Trump said in August 2018 that he knew compromising information about Hillary Clinton had been discussed at the 2016 meeting.)

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the president “certainly didn’t dictate” Trump Jr.’s statement in June 2018.

Trump told the special counsel in his written answers that he had “no recollection of learning of the meeting or the emails setting it up at the time the meeting occurred or at any other time before the election.” Trump has publicly denied knowing about the meeting before June 2017.


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On November 10, 2016 – two days after the presidential election – Hicks, the former Trump campaign spokesperson, told reporters, “We are not aware of any campaign representatives that were in touch with any foreign entities before yesterday, when Mr. Trump spoke with many world leaders.”

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