Influential White House Staff Member Quits Job

By Michael Abramowitz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 4, 2008

Joe Hagin, the little known but influential White House staffer who supervised the renovation of the Situation Room and planned President Bush's secret trips to Iraq, surprised colleagues yesterday with his resignation.

"It's time to move on," Hagin told colleagues yesterday in an e-mail informing them he had accepted a corporate job that will involve spending time in Washington and Chicago.

Hagin is one of the few staffers who had senior posts in the White House under both Bush and his father, President George H.W. Bush, for whom Hagin first worked as a personal aide when the 41st chief executive was vice president.

Hagin served the current president as deputy chief of staff, with responsibility for the management and administrative functions of the White House. That perch put him in charge of a major upgrade of White House infrastructure during the administration, including the press briefing room and the Situation Room, the Eisenhower Executive Office Building and the two planes used as Air Force One.

He also planned all of Bush's travel and was frequently by the president's side on many of his trips. He was responsible for the elaborate planning that went into Bush's two visits to Iraq, which got underway with only a few top officials and journalists aware of what was coming.

Hagin was extremely well liked by the president and most of his colleagues. "He is a national treasure who saw the failing and crumbling infrastructure on the 18 acres and went about the process to get the money and right folks to come in and upgrade," said Phil Lago, former executive secretary of the National Security Council, who worked with Hagin on some of his projects. "Joe was the middle of every good thing that happened at the White House."

© 2008 The Washington Post Company