(TNS) — Robert Mueller's Russia investigation is focusing on one of President Donald Trump's closest yet quietest confidants.
The special counsel's lawyers plan to sit down by the end of this month with White House Communications Director Hope Hicks to find out what she might know about possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow.
Hicks' denial that top campaign aides spoke with foreign dignitaries is likely to come up during the discussions.
"It never happened," Hicks told The Associated Press soon the election last November. "There was no communication between the campaign and any foreign entity during the campaign."
Information that emerged in the past year, however, reveals that wasn't so.
Since Trump was elected, it's come out that Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Jeff Sessions (then a senator, now attorney general), Paul Manafort, Carter Page and other campaign workers spoke with Russian nationals in some capacity during the Trump's presidential campaign.
Hicks has retained Washington lawyer Robert Trout, who declined to comment. A spokesman for Mueller also declined to comment.
Since her November 2016 comment appears to now be in dispute, Hicks might find herself in a tight spot when she meets with the special counsel's staff.
"It puts her easily on the defensive and once somebody's on the defensive it's easier to get them to say what you want them to say," said Rebecca Roiphe, a professor at New York Law School. "She's going to be forced into a corner to explain those lies."
Hicks, who's worked with the Trumps for five years, has been a quiet force with the campaign and White House.
But she received wider attention after Donald Trump Jr.'s correspondence with WikiLeaks was revealed.
The documents site — which released leaked emails from the Clinton campaign and members of the Democratic National Committee during the campaign — reached out to Trump Jr. in September 2016.
Trump Jr. emailed top campaign members, including his brother-in-law, Kushner, about his WikiLeaks contact.
The Senate Judiciary Committee this month wrote an angry letter to Kushner, alleging that he withheld those emails, which he reportedly forwarded to Hicks.
Abbe Lowell, Kushner's lawyer, had said his client warned campaign staff not to talk to foreign nationals and that the charge by the Senate panel was blown out of proportion.
The WikiLeaks correspondence is the latest incident showing Hicks' direct communication with Trump's surrogates — and her close proximity to the president.
Meanwhile, Carter Page told the House Intelligence Committee that he told Sessions, Hicks and campaign manager Corey Lewandowski before giving a speech in Russia in July 2016.
Page has denied that the speech had anything to do with his role as a foreign policy adviser and that his brief encounters with Russian officials were just pleasantries.
Yet Page also said he emailed other advisers about Trump potentially delivering a speech in Russia, likening it to Barack Obama's 2008 address in Berlin.
Hicks was also reportedly in the know when Trump decided to fire FBI Director James Comey in May — likely to be another talking point when she meets with Mueller's team.
The firing — which the president suggested was partially because of the Russia investigation— was considered obstruction of justice by some critics.
Kushner reportedly forwarded an email about foreign contacts, warning the campaign not to engage.
Hicks' muted nature and loyalty to the president have been considered factors to why she's lasted so long.
She's often one of the few people in the room when Trump gives an interview.
And like the president, Hicks is a relative newcomer to politics.
She grew up in Greenwich, Conn. and played lacrosse through her four years at Southern Methodist University. Hicks also modeled for a time, and her work included the cover of an offshoot novel from the show "Gossip Girl."
Hicks began her public relations career at Hiltzik Strategies, which was contracted with the Trump Organization when she began in 2012.
The company put her on its payroll within two years to focus on Ivanka Trump's clothing brand — sometimes even posing for some of the products.
She was conscripted into Trump's campaign when he announced his candidacy for president in mid-2015.
At one point she tried to leave the campaign, but Trump reportedly convinced her to stay.
She followed her boss into the White House. Hicks took over the communications role on an interim basis after Anthony Scaramucci — a hedge fund manager with little media experience — was fired after 11 days on the job.
The job became permanent in September, making Hicks the third person to hold the title since Trump took office in January.