Trump loses top operations official

Joe Hagin, the White House official who orchestrated logistics for the summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, will depart the administration next month, according to officials.

A veteran of every Republican administration since President Ronald Reagan, Hagin will return to the private sector.

“Joe Hagin has been a huge asset to my administration,” Trump wrote in an emailed statement. “He planned and executed the longest and one of the most historic foreign trips ever made by a President, and he did it all perfectly. We will miss him in the office and even more on the road. I am thankful for his remarkable service to our great country.”

Hagin initially told people in February that he would leave the administration in the coming weeks. Before re-entering government at the start of the Trump administration, Hagin ran a private contracting firm he founded with other former officials.

When the White House was hit with the scandal involving former staff secretary Rob Porter, however, Hagin was viewed as one of the few other officials in the West Wing who could lead a professional operation. He decided to stay for several more months.

His highest-profile task came within the past weeks as he worked to help salvage Trump’s summit with Kim. As negotiations between the US and North Korea floundered last month, Hagin was dispatched to Singapore to work with his North Korean counterparts to sort out sticky logistical concerns for the summit. Trump met with Kim on June 12.

One of the highest-ranking White House officials, Hagin held the title deputy chief of staff for operations, the same position he held under President George W. Bush.

Though he is leaving on his own terms, Trump was never fond of Hagin, people familiar with their dynamic said. He thought of him as a Bush-era holdover constantly, and was irked by his restrictive measures, like when he would tell the President he would need to hold off traveling for an additional day or two so the Secret Service would have time to prepare for a visit.

First lady Melania Trump also dislikes Hagin, a source familiar with their relationship told CNN. She, at times, pushed Trump to replace him. Asked whether the first lady does not like Hagin and has voiced that dislike to the President, East Wing communications director Stephanie Grisham told CNN: “That’s not true, she doesn’t get involved with West Wing staff.”

Detractors aside, Hagin’s presence at the most senior levels of the Trump White House has comforted some of his former colleagues and even Democrats who worried about the fate of the country in the wake of Trump’s election.

That view is one that Hagin appears to share, according to three current and former White House officials who requested anonymity to speak more candidly.

“He is known for having an air of he’s going to kind of save the country from the President,” one White House official said, adding that Hagin has repeatedly demonstrated a disdain for the President’s unconventional style and use of Twitter.

Three current and former White House officials also said Hagin openly laments the atypical nature of Trump’s presidency and its chaotic nature with another familiar refrain: “This would never happen in the Bush administration” — a comment the sources said is often accompanied by an eye roll.

When CNN reported on those comments in a profile of Hagin earlier this month, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders noted that Hagin’s best recollection of the Bush administration was at the end of their eight-year tenure, presumably when the kinks had been worked out — not the rockier first months.