There's about to be another White House shake-up, and this one could bring back a familiar face. Hope Hicks may return to the White House as chief of staff, Vanity Fair reported on Friday.
Gabriel Sherman — the reporter who wrote the definitive biography of disgraced former Fox News head Roger Ailes — reported that at least two sources say Hicks is being discussed as a possible chief of staff to replace John Kelly. For Vanity Fair, Sherman reported that Hicks has indicated she's "open to the job" if she was asked, but that she's not openly pursuing the gig that, prior to Kelly, was held by GOP strategist Reince Priebus. Hicks resigned from her post as White House communications director in February.
These rumblings come after a report in the Wall Street Journal on Thursday that said Kelly will leave his post as chief of staff "early this summer." The White House refuted the story. "I spoke to the president who refuted this article. He said it is absolutely not true and that it is fake news," a White House spokesperson told reporters aboard Air Force One, according to The Hill.
When asked by reporters directly about a possible return of Hicks to his administration, the president seemed hopeful. "I love Hope. She's great. I hope that— I've been seeing little things like that," Trump said of rumors of her return.
Trump told reporters that the public nature and press coverage of the job can exhaust White House staffers.
"I think everybody misses it. When they leave for a little while, you exhaust a lot of people. You people exhaust a lot of people. They come in full of life, full of vigor, and they're exhausted, and then they get their breath. Frankly, Hope is great and so are many of the other people and they went out," Trump told reporters. "But many people would like to come back. Look, there is nothing more exciting than what we're doing."
CBS News reported that beyond Hicks, two other replacements being floated for Kelly are budget director Mick Mulvaney and Nick Ayers, Vice President Mike Pence's chief of staff.
To be clear, Kelly has not yet left the West Wing. Political journalists say Kelly brought "order" to a chaotic Trump administration, CBS News reported. One way was by getting the president to take phone calls via the White House switchboard. But as CNN reported in April, that practice soon ended, Trump returned to his personal cell phone for his late-night phone calls. Now, Kelly "grates on the freewheeling president," CBS News reported.
On his way to Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey, the president told reporters that they have "a very good relationship."
"I like John a lot. I like him and I respect him," Trump told reporters.
Despite the disagreement on if or when Kelly is leaving the White House, Trump made another hire in an effort to curb leaks. (Maybe leaks such as his chief of staff is departing soon?) Former Fox News co-president Bill Shine accepted the job as deputy chief of staff for communications, ABC News reported on Wednesday.
Vanity Fair reports that Shine was brought on to streamline the communications department, which is plagued by leaks. But as the magazine continues, he has "virtually no experience" in dealing with the daily press.
An anonymous source said this of Shine to Vanity Fair:
He’s a mechanics guy. He can determine when the best day to announce something is to drive the news cycle; or when the White House is doing events how to get the best camera shots.
Shine started at Fox News as a producer for host Sean Hannity. Vanity Fair reported that it took months for Shine to accept the job after his family expressed some misgivings.
Shine was Ailes's righthand man, but denied knowledge of Ailes's harassing behavior. Ten months after Ailes was removed from Fox News, Shine left the company over his role in enabling Ailes's predatory behavior, according to USA Today. It remains to be seen if how this baggage will follow Shine as he starts at the Trump White House.