America is so thoroughly up in arms this week over Donald Trump’s immigrant child concentration camps, his recent debacle with Kim Jong Un has nearly slipped from the headlines. Trump and Kim announced a “deal” in which Kim gave up literally nothing, and Trump caved on everything. Now it turns out something is even more wrong with the deal than we thought, and Trump’s White House is in crisis over it.
The trouble began earlier today when White House Deputy Chief of Staff Joe Hagin abruptly announced his resignation. He was the one who led Donald Trump’s advance team for the Singapore meeting. He played a more crucial role in the Trump-Kim debacle than just about anyone. At first his resignation appeared as if it may have been routine. In fact, when officials are planning to resign for whatever reason, they usually wait until just after they’ve completed the project they’ve been working on. Then things suddenly got chaotic.
Shortly after Joe Hagin’s resignation, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo abruptly canceled his planned Senate briefing about the Trump-Kim deal, which had been scheduled for tomorrow. Hagin would have played a key role in this briefing. So if he were resigning for routine reasons, he sure wouldn’t have announced it just before the biggest briefing of his life, just before the briefing was canceled. Hagin is remaining on the job for another two weeks, so it’s not as if he’s unavailable for the briefing.
In other words, something has gone very wrong here. The written agreement between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un is so short and vague, it’s far from clear what the United States has actually given up in this deal. There doesn’t appear to be anyone in the Trump administration who knows what Trump and Kim verbally agreed to. Now the Deputy who helped make the summit happen is suddenly quitting, and the big briefing about the meeting has suddenly been canceled. We don’t know what’s going on here, but it can’t be pretty.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report