“Nobody has more respect for women than me. Nobody. Nobody has more respect.” These are the now-famous words of Donald Trump, the former beauty pageant owner who made it all the way to the White House, once again, surrounded by women.
Trump, the creator of sexual assault euphemisms like “grab them by the pussy”, is now President-elect, a businessman-slash-reality-TV star who has never held public office, and he got there with the help of a handful of well-educated women who not only survived the gruelling, hate-fuelled election, but the pressure cooker of his inner sanctum that had more sackings than a season of The Apprentice.
Hope Hicks, his 27-year-old press secretary, who kept a low-profile during the campaign, is now one of the most powerful women in the United States. An impressive trajectory for someone who reportedly scoffed back in January 2015 when summoned to his 26th-floor office.
“Mr Trump looked at me and said, ‘I’m thinking about running for president, and you’re going to be my press secretary’,” she told New York magazine in a rare on-the-record chat.
At the time she was working inside Trump Tower for Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, helping expand fashion label the Ivanka Trump Collection. She also modelled for the online store. “In this outfit, I can jump on the shuttle to DC to do press for our upcoming hotel and come back to NYC in time for drinks with my boyfriend without having to change,” she said of a mint green shift dress.
Hicks is a spokesperson who rarely speaks publicly. Earlier this year she declined to be interviewed for an in-depth profile for GQ, instead adjudicating from the sidelines while Trump fielded questions about her, in front of her.
She is described as likable, loyal, and resilient and has a background in corporate PR; past clients include the Trump Organisation.
Despite being a registered yet disillusioned Republican for eight years and, like her boss, on her political P-plates, she grew up surrounded by the wheeling and dealing of Capitol Hill. Her parents met in Washington as congressional aides, where her mother worked for a Democrat from Tennessee and her father for a Connecticut Republican.
Hicks instead went on to focus on sports and other ventures. By 11 she was modelling for Ralph Lauren and then fronted a series of young adult fiction novels about a girl who time travels, before moving on to become a lacrosse star at university. Shortly after that she sidelined her dreams of becoming an actor and found herself controlling communications for the contest against Clinton when Trump started his run last year.
Her duties involve keeping reporters at bay and fielding more than 250 media requests a day. She is famous for her silence, a trait that spawned a fake Twitter profile called @HicksNoComment. “Email me at [email protected] and I will ignore you,” the bio reads.
But perhaps her most notorious (and laborious) job is being responsible for Trump’s penchant for posting 140 character missives on Twitter.
According to The Washington Post, prior to the publication being added to his media blacklist, Hicks takes dictation before sending his words to another adviser who then posts the tweets from Trump’s official account.
Rebuking the Pope, who questioned the Christianity of anybody who would build a wall to keep migrants out of the US, and maligning a female reporter who was physically assaulted by Trump’s then-campaign-manager Corey Lewandowski are two other achievements now listed high on her resume.
Following the emergence of video evidence of the Lewandowski incident that saw him cast aside while Hicks downplayed the fracas by describing the victim as a “lying attention hound”, in came Kellyanne Conway to clean up the mess.
Conway is the Rhonda Epinstalk to Trump’s Muriel Heslop.
The 49-year-old long-term political strategist and pollster was his third campaign manager and the first woman to run a Republican presidential campaign. She was outspoken, full of vigour and, according to The Guardian, “its most effective weapon”.
“Conway feminised the Trump campaign,” it reported, “giving it an acceptable face amid the blustering machismo. A TV veteran, she hit the airwaves relentlessly, diffusing all criticisms of Trump with a sunny smile and a continued insistence that ‘Mr Trump has a positive vision for America’.”
During her short tenure Conway, like Hicks, became close to Trump’s “political spouse” and daughter Ivanka.
After weathering the storm of the leaked Access Hollywood tapes, the “nasty woman” comments of the final presidential debate and rogue tweets made by Trump in the unsupervised hours of the early morning, Ivanka extended her gratitude by gifting Conway a charm bracelet with the hashtag “MAGA”, short for Trump’s battle cry “Make American Great Again”.
Conway is expected follow in CJ Cregg’s (fictional) footsteps and be rewarded for her upbeat, tireless efforts on the campaign with the plum job of White House press secretary.
What Hicks plans to do next is anyone’s guess, and so far she is remaining characteristically tight-lipped.