Despite her behind-the-scenes reputation, White House communications director Hope Hicks was inserted into the Trump-Russia probe earlier this week when it was reported that Donald Trump Jr. spoke to her and not his father when crafting his initial statement regarding the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between Trump campaign staffers and agents representing the Russian government. Hicks’ place in the ongoing investigations is coming into focus Friday after the New York Times reported that FBI agents warned Hicks earlier in 2017 that Russian operatives were attempting to contact her.
According to the sources, the emails were sent to Hicks during the transition, but after American intelligence agencies had concluded that Russia had interfered in the election in an attempt to tip the scales in Trump’s favor, an indication that Russia was still looking for inroads with Trump’s inner circle.
After Trump’s inauguration, the FBI debriefed Hicks multiple times, including in the White House Situation Room, about the emails to warn her that she might be a target of intelligence operations, which sounds slightly similar to warnings the administration received about former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.
After he took office, senior F.B.I. counterintelligence agents met with Ms. Hicks in the White House Situation Room at least twice, gave her the names of the Russians who had contacted her, and said that they were not who they claimed to be. The F.B.I. was concerned that the emails to Ms. Hicks may have been part of a Russian intelligence operation, and they urged Ms. Hicks to be cautious.
Following her discussions with the FBI, Hicks reportedly informed White House counsel Donald McGahn about the meetings.
Hicks was interviewed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team Thursday and Friday, but it’s not known whether or not investigators asked about the Russian efforts to contact Hicks.
(Via New York Times)