The White House announced the resignation of one of USA President Donald Trump’s most loyal aides, Communications Director Hope Hicks on Wednesday.
Hope Hicks is the fourth person serving in the job to resign. Hicks is Trump’s longest serving aide, having worked with him for three years dating back to before he announced his candidacy.
She became communications director in August after the resignation of AnthonyÂ Scaramucci, who lasted in the position for just 10 days. She joins a long list of former White House officials who have resigned or been sacked, including her boyfriend, Rob Porter, who left as Trump’s staff secretary under a cloud of suspicion stemming from allegations of domestic violence by two ex-wives.
Hicks’ resignation comes one day after she testified for eight hours before the House Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Hicks, 29, acknowledged sometimes having lied in her service to Trump, but insisted that she had never lied about substantive matters, US media reported.
Trump praised Hicks as smart and thoughtful and “a truly great person.” A White House statement said when Hicks approached Trump about pursuing other opportunities outside the White House, he said he told her he “totally understood”.
He said he will miss having her by his side, but said he is sure they would work together again in the future.
Her exact departure date has not been determined, but the statement said it will be sometime in the next few weeks.
Earlier Wednesday, Trump criticized Attorney General Jeff Sessions, calling the top US law enforcement officer’s handling of alleged surveillance abuses “disgraceful”.
He pointed to Sessions’ decision this week to instruct the Justice Department’s inspector general to investigate whether the FBIÂ withheld information in its application for a surveillance warrant against Carter Page, a former member of Trump’s campaign.
The inspector general “will take forever, has no prosecutorial power and already late with reports on Comey etc,”Â Trump tweeted, referring to a probe into former FBIÂ director James Comey’s handling of a probe of Hillary Clinton’s email practices.
The tweet marked the latest in a series of attacks by the president on Sessions, one of his early champions in the 2016 election.
Trump has repeatedly criticized Sessions’ decision last year to recuse himself from the Russia investigation, which is also focusing on alleged collusion between Russia and members of Trump’s campaign to influence the outcome of the election.
That move followed revelations that Sessions had spoken with the Russian ambassador on multiple occasions during 2016, and was one of a series of developments that led to the appointment of an independent special counsel to handle the probe.
In an unusual move, Sessions hit back onÂ Wednesday, saying that he had “initiated the appropriate process that will ensure complaints against this Department will be fully and fairly acted upon if necessary”.
In a statement cited by CNN, Sessions said he would “continue to discharge [his] duties with integrity and honour” and the Justice Department would “continue to do its work in a fair and impartial manner according to the law and Constitution”.
Also on Wednesday, Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort pleaded not guilty to new charges brought as part of the Russia investigation but unrelated to the alleged collusion with members of Trump’s campaign.
Manafort will go on trial on September 17, according to a court document, on the series of charges brought as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.