First lady Melania Trump’s office is operating without a policy director.
Reagan Hedlund, who was hired for the job by Trump in January, recently departed the first lady’s team, according to a source with knowledge of the East Wing staffing change.
Hedlund came to Trump’s office from the National Security Council, where she was an executive assistant; prior to that she served as policy and communications adviser to Mike Pompeo when he was a Republican member of the House of Representatives from Kansas, before his roles as CIA director and secretary of state.
“She is no longer with our office and we wish her our best,” Trump’s communications director, Stephanie Grisham, told CNN on Friday.
Hedlund’s departure was first reported by Politico.
The parting of the first lady’s policy director comes as Trump appears to have begun a take-two on her rollout of Be Best, the initiative the first lady designed to help children. The broad-based program pursues three different issues: overall well-being, positivity on social media, and the effect of the opioid crisis on kids. Although Trump officially announced Be Best as her policy platform at a Rose Garden event in early May, the momentum of the launch was somewhat stalled after the first lady entered Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for an undisclosed kidney procedure on May 14, requiring several weeks of recovery.
In England last month, Trump talked up Be Best to schoolchildren during an official event with Philip May, the husband of British Prime Minister Theresa May. This week Trump taped a video message for kids at a leadership camp in Kentucky, reminding them to be nice to one another, and two weeks ago she traveled to Nashville, Tennessee, to visit a children’s hospital and learn more about neonatal abstinence syndrome, part of the opioid crisis that affects newborn babies.
Trump has lately also waded into policy related to the country’s ongoing immigration crisis at the border, with Grisham telling CNN in June the first lady “hates to see” families being separated, and that she encouraged a bipartisan legislative resolution. Additionally, Trump made two trips to border facilities, in Texas and in Arizona, for what Grisham stated were attempts to “educate herself” about what is happening on the front lines of the “zero-tolerance” policy being enforced by her husband’s administration.
While it is unclear if Hedlund had anything to do with Trump’s statements or actions on immigration, she did tell Politico that she worked on Be Best.
“I am very grateful to the first lady for the opportunity to help launch her policy initiative,” Hedlund told Politico. “It was a rare opportunity to contribute at such a high level. It was a difficult decision to leave, however, I have decided to return to my roots in the foreign policy world.”
It is unclear what Hedlund’s current job status is.
A source familiar with the matter told CNN that although the first lady’s office is downplaying details of Hedlund’s departure in an effort of goodwill, she was asked to leave the East Wing after it was determined she was not the right fit for the policy director position. CNN has attempted to reach Hedlund for comment.
Hedlund’s departure makes Trump’s already small team even leaner. With approximately 10 full-time staffers managing everything from daily operations to communications, Trump’s East Wing office is less than half the size of Michelle Obama’s when she left the White House. Obama had about 25 people on her staff, as did her predecessor Laura Bush.
“The team is small, but mighty,” Grisham told CNN in April.