Hope Hicks and the dirty old man…

Vince Rizzo
5 min readMay 6, 2024

Hope Hicks’ testimony has been sliced and diced, chopped and whirred to a fine powder after her turn on the stand. Fox commentators looked to spot a silver lining among the gathering darkness of her tale about her time with the ex-president. The rest of us recognized the sheer terror her words had to bring to her “mentor” who listened closely eyes wide shut-like. While what was asked and answered made news, I was struck by her performance.

Hicks testified under duress but not the kind of pressure we associate with those who have to tell the truth about someone they truly care for. There was a tawdriness about the relationship that came through. She laughed, she cried, she needed time to think. She was performing. Trump’s reaction, his eyes averted always, but attentive to her every word, reminded me of the creepiness that sits beneath the persona of the billionaire businessman with little time for details. One detail he attends to is his need to be surrounded and doted on by pretty young women. Hope Hicks’ resume never screamed “oval office,” her skillset hardly suggested ‘communications specialist” or whatever title Trump cooked up to place her within leer of the resolute Desk he wasted our time behind.

The longer she testified the more we were reminded of his inability to control himself around cute young things. We are reminded of E. Jean Carroll, Stormy Daniels, Karen McDougal… and Jeffrey Epstein. Our memories are drawn to his inappropriateness surrounding his relationship with daughter Ivanka, whom he once revealed he would date if she weren’t his child- and worse:

While president, Donald Trump made sexual comments about his daughter Ivanka in front of his employees that were so lewd and disturbing that he was rebuked by his one-time chief of staff John Kelly, a former Trump official writes in a new book.

“Aides said he talked about Ivanka Trump’s breasts, her backside, and what it might be like to have sex with her, remarks that prompted Kelly to remind the president that Ivanka was his daughter,” writes Miles Taylor, a former chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security…

- Seattle Times, “Trump’s lewd talk about daughter Ivanka in front of White House staff recalled in new book” by Martha Ross

Hope Hicks, he had often said, was like a daughter to him.

Many of his White House hires had resumes thinner than their waistlines which, as president, spoke volumes about him as it exposed his young hires to a toxic work environment”

Last month, several former White House staffers opened up about Trump’s pattern of behaving inappropriately around female colleagues when he was president, Newsweek reported.

Alyssa Farah Griffin, who quit as White House communications director in December 2020, told CNN that there were “countless cases of what I considered impropriety in the White House that I brought to the chief of staff because I thought the way he engaged with women was dangerous.”

- Seattle Times

The tears she shed on the stand as she testified last week seemed out of place. Her demeanor as described by those in the courtroom, was odd. She was reacting like a victim groomed by a predator. The pictures of Trump and Hicks together while in public could be compared to the signs of grooming that the RAININ website uses to warn victims being groomed for sexual assaults and rape:

  • Victim selection: Abusers often observe possible victims and select them
  • based on ease of access to them or their perceived vulnerability.
  • Gaining access and isolating the victim: Abusers will attempt to physically or emotionally separate a victim from those protecting them and often seek out positions in which they have contact with minors.
  • Trust development and keeping secrets: Abusers attempt to gain trust of a potential victim through gifts, attention, sharing “secrets” and other means to make them feel that they have a caring relationship and to train them to keep the relationship secret.
  • Desensitization to touch and discussion of sexual topics: Abusers will often start to touch a victim in ways that appear harmless, such as hugging, wrestling and tickling, and later escalate to increasingly more sexual contact, such as massages or showering together. Abusers may also show the victim pornography or discuss sexual topics with them, to introduce the idea of sexual contact.
  • Attempt by abusers to make their behavior seem natural, to avoid raising suspicions. For teens, who may be closer in age to the abuser, it can be particularly hard to recognize tactics used in grooming. Be alert for signs that your teen has a relationship with an adult that includes secrecy, undue influence or control, or pushes personal boundaries.

Hope Hicks’ testimony was damning even as her demeanor seemed a bit odd. Every description of their work relationship seemed tinged with traces of unseemly. He, averting his eyes; she, dabbing her eyes on the stand and looking away as she entered and left the courtroom. It was as if they were a couple reacting to a break-up. Could she be the one other staffers were worried about as reported in a May 2023 Newsweek article?

Grisham said Trump, 76, had been particularly fixated on a woman on her team, and described an incident where he had asked a staffer to “bring her back so that they could look at her ass.”

“With this one staffer, it was really bad to the point that I was extremely uncomfortable,” Grisham told CNN’s Erin Burnett.

Troye, 46, was aware “there was a younger staffer that he took a very keen interest” in. “That was the one they raised concerns about,” Troye said.

- Newsweek, Exclusive: Trump’s Interest in ‘Younger Staffer’ Raised White House Concerns-Ex-Adviser” by Khaleda Rahman

Knowing Trump’s history with women and his associations with others like himself, it may well be that Ms. Hicks is just another target of Trump’s alter ego- the spider ensnaring his prey. At one level this is a story about a lecherous old man without a conscience, without a mirror.

Originally published at https://vincerizzo.substack.com.



Vince Rizzo

Former president of the International Association of Laboratory Schools (IALS) and a founder of a charter school based on MI theory.