Hope Hicks Says Trump Campaign Was In ‘Crisis’ After ‘Access Hollywood’ Tape

Former Donald Trump spokesperson Hope Hicks began testifying Friday in the business fraud trial that’s ensnared her former boss, whom she described as “very involved” in the operation’s media strategy.

Recalling her long history with the Trump clan, Hicks said the Trump campaign was in “crisis” after the Washington Post in 2016 published a transcript of Trump bragging about his ability to sexually assault women.

An audio version of what became known as the “Access Hollywood” tape leaked soon after.

In it, Trump can be heard telling former “Access Hollywood” correspondent Billy Bush, “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. ... Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.”

The development knocked coverage of a Category 4 hurricane from the news, Hicks recalled.

“I had a good sense this was going to be a massive story and dominate the news cycle,” she said in court Friday. “I think there was consensus amongst us all that the tape was damaging and this was a crisis.”

Prosecutors displayed an urgent email Hicks forwarded to senior members of the campaign regarding the tape and how they should respond.

“FLAGGING,” the email says, then offers two thoughts:
“Need to hear the tape to be sure”
“Deny, deny, deny.”

Hicks said Trump’s response was initially pretty muted compared to the rest of the campaign staff, and that he regarded the tape as fairly standard subject matter for two guys chatting with each other.

That set the tenor for the campaign’s initial, more dismissive, public statement, which cast the tape as no more than “locker room banter” and “a private conversation that took place many years ago.”

When that failed to quell the outrage, Hicks said, Trump agreed to release a more direct apology. In her recollection, Trump seemed more concerned with the political fallout than anything else.

Hicks’ relationship with Trump soured after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, which she previously said made Trump staffers “all look like domestic terrorists.”

Trump faces 34 criminal counts for allegedly falsifying business records to conceal hush money payments made in 2016 to silence allegations of an extramarital affair with adult film star Stormy Daniels.

Prosecutors will likely use the “Access Hollywood” tape to bolster their depiction of Trump as the type of person who could conceivably have had extramarital affairs. While jurors will not hear audio of the tape itself, it can be described and quoted from for the jury.