“Unhealthy concept,” the director, W. Ralph Basham, recalled telling Hagin.
However Hagin was undeterred, Basham stated, and provided a swift retort.
“The President’s going to go to Baghdad,” Hagin stated. “We will both go together with him or we are able to meet him when he comes again.”
Deployed to Singapore final week to barter logistical particulars with a delegation of North Koreans, Hagin has assumed an outsized position within the preparations for the off-again, on-again assembly. His advance work within the Southeast Asian city-state might decide whether or not the summit occurs in any respect. From the beginning, logistical considerations have assumed a serious position within the assembly’s planning, from figuring out its location to assuaging North Korean considerations about Kim’s capability to journey safely from his hermit kingdom.
Senior White Home officers stated his weeklong discussions with North Korean officers within the Southeast Asian city-state performed a key position in giving Trump the arrogance Friday to declare: “We’ll be assembly on June 12 in Singapore.”
Hagin had finalized many of the logistical particulars for the summit, having earlier within the day held the final of his 4 conferences along with his North Korean counterparts final week, a senior White Home official stated.
As much as the problem
Hagin’s former colleagues say if anybody can cobble collectively a summit with a North Korean dictator in a matter of weeks, it is him.
“Of all of the folks on the face of the earth who might pull this collectively, this man Joe Hagin is the perfect,” stated Basham, who based the consulting agency Command Floor with Hagin after each left authorities. “Joe has all the time been there. He is one in every of these those who you already know what, if it is going to work, Joe Hagin is the man that is going to make it work.”
With the white-shingled Capella resort on the upscale Sentosa Island as their base, Hagin and a workforce of White Home officers scouted ballrooms, accommodations and authorities buildings over the past week as doable venues for the historic summit, all whereas hashing out logistical sticking factors with their North Korean counterparts.
The work was imagined to have taken place greater than two weeks in the past, however Hagin and his workforce have been stood up by the North Korean delegation, dimming prospects the summit would happen.
“Usually this type of factor, you’ll have months to set it up,” stated Josh Bolten, Bush’s former chief of workers who has identified Hagin for greater than twenty years. “So it might’t be as clean as you desire to, however Joe’s presence offers me a whole lot of confidence.”
The agenda was stacked as Hagin negotiated along with his North Korean counterparts. Individuals acquainted with the negotiations stated the variety of safety guards who might be allowed within the room with Kim has been a chief fear for the North Korean chief, who has additionally expressed considerations of being deposed if he travels too far exterior of North Korea, or stays gone for lengthy. Different issues embrace how Kim will journey to Singapore on one in every of his nation’s growing older Soviet-era planes, guaranteeing he has sufficient gasoline to return to Pyongyang and, in fact, how the summit will play for the cameras.
For planning conferences, the discussions have been mobbed by an uncommon degree of media curiosity and Hagin, used to finishing up his work behind the scenes, was typically confronted with a dozen reporters and photojournalists inside minutes of leaving his resort room, a senior White Home official stated. On multiple event, the negotiators made last-minute adjustments to the places of their conferences to remain out of view of the media.
The conferences typically proceeded at a painstaking tempo. North Korean officers are “delicate to being dictated to,” one supply near the talks stated, and the Hagin-led workforce has taken pains to current concepts for the summit in a collaborative method.
“Even in the event you’re main a horse to water, it’s a must to do it in a method that’s collaborative,” the supply stated.
North Korean officers in Singapore additionally wanted to get sign-off on nearly each element with their superiors in Pyongyang, resulting in one- or two-day intervals earlier than they may attain an settlement on even minor logistical particulars, the supply stated.
The White Home, in distinction, has given Hagin vast leeway to find out the perfect choices for holding the summit, together with its location. That lengthy leash on a problem of paramount significance to the President is emblematic of the broad portfolio and energy Hagin has quietly amassed contained in the West Wing.
As deputy chief of workers for operations, Hagin oversees almost each facet of the White Home’s logistical and personnel operations, with oversight over every little thing from the White Home’s advance workplace to its human assets workplace and workplace of personnel safety, which doles out safety clearance suggestions for present and incoming workers.
And he has been concerned within the administration’s most delicate overseas coverage points, particularly touring with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in early Might to safe the discharge of three American hostages.
A comforting presence
His presence on the most senior ranges of the Trump White Home has comforted a few of his former colleagues and even Democrats who nervous in regards to the destiny of the nation within the wake of Trump’s election.
Assembly with the incoming chief of workers Reince Priebus through the presidential transition, Bolten, the previous Bush chief of workers, stated he “underscored for them the significance of getting a Joe Hagin — and in some way they bought Joe Hagin.”
“I believe we’re all of the beneficiaries of it,” Bolten stated. “As turbulent as this White Home typically seems, with out Joe Hagin there I believe it could be significantly extra turbulent.”
That view is one which Hagin seems to share, in line with three present and former White Home officers who requested anonymity to talk extra candidly.
“He’s identified for having an air of he will form of save the nation from the President,” one White Home official stated, including that Hagin has repeatedly demonstrated a disdain for the President’s unconventional type and use of Twitter.
Two officers stated Hagin has saved delicate logistical particulars from Trump — together with throughout Chinese language President Xi Jinping’s go to to Mar-a-Lago final yr — for worry that the President would possibly tweet about them and upend the plans.
Hagin often attracts on one instance particularly, reminding officers that through the transition, Boeing executives advised the transition workforce that they have been prepared to renegotiate the price of constructing a brand new Air Drive One fleet, however requested that the President-elect and his workforce maintain the plans underneath wraps. The transition officers advised Trump, who quickly tweeted: “Boeing is constructing a model new 747 Air Drive One for future presidents, however prices are uncontrolled, greater than $four billion. Cancel order!”
Two weeks later, the Boeing CEO stated the corporate would get the planes constructed for lower than deliberate.
“Bear in mind Boeing,” Hagin now tells colleagues.
White Home press secretary Sarah Sanders stated she had by no means heard Hagin make these feedback and rejected allegations that Hagin retains delicate info from Trump, saying, “it is simply not how Joe Hagin operates.”
“I’ve labored very carefully with Joe and it is simply not how his thoughts thinks or the way in which that he operates,” Sanders stated.
Three present and former White Home officers additionally stated Hagin overtly laments the atypical nature of Trump’s presidency and its chaotic nature with one other acquainted chorus: “This may by no means occur within the Bush administration” — a remark the sources stated is commonly accompanied by a watch roll.
Sanders didn’t dispute that Hagin has made the remark, however famous that whereas Hagin served all through the Bush administration, his freshest recollection of that White Home is “after that they had been there for eight years.”
“You are going to return to your most up-to-date recollection,” she stated. “On the similar time, I believe it is truthful to say that there are many issues which have occurred that you’d say would not have occurred in a Bush administration, however I do not suppose that is essentially a destructive. This is likely one of the causes Trump was elected, to do issues in a different way and to alter Washington.”
Barry Bennett, a detailed Hagin pal and former Trump marketing campaign adviser, stated Hagin “loves the President” and stated Trump has benefited from Hagin’s a long time of expertise.
“He’s strolling institutional data. He is aware of the place the pitfalls are earlier than anyone else even thinks about them,” Bennett stated.
Historical past of historic summits
Hagin, whose center title is Whitehouse, has served in each Republican administration since Ronald Reagan — a long time throughout which he labored on almost each facet of presidential logistics, organizing international summits, overseas journeys and secretive warzone ventures. Amongst these, Hagin — then the White Home scheduler — helped set up the historic 1989 Malta summit between President George H.W. Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet Union’s common secretary. Not not like immediately, White Home aides then hailed the assembly as a doubtlessly earth-shaking second that would reshape the present world order.
From that historic summit to the planning for Trump’s North Korea summit, Hagin has maintained a low profile — the signal of what Bennett known as “a quintessential staffer.”
“He would hate the truth that you are writing a profile on him. And he will not take part,” Bennett stated.
Certainly, Hagin declined to remark for this story.
However as a few of Trump’s aides fret that he has been overly keen to carry the summit with North Korean chief Kim Jong Un and with one senior White Home official warning from the White Home podium final month that it could be extraordinarily difficult to tug of the summit by June 12, will Hagin be prepared to push again on the President’s zeal if wanted?
One former senior Bush White Home official stated that whereas Hagin all the time sought to accommodate Bush’s calls for, he was additionally prepared to “communicate reality to energy.”
“He did get crossfires with the President now and again,” stated the official, who couldn’t communicate on the report because of a contractual obligation with one other TV community.
A skilled firefighter, Hagin repeatedly urged Bush and his aides in opposition to touring to catastrophe zones within the immediacy of hurricane or different pure catastrophe, stressing that whereas it could assuage public calls for for the President’s presence, it could additionally drain emergency responders’ assets.
“Joe would say, ‘We will not go now, I might actually strongly advocate in opposition to it,’ ” the official stated.