Trump to CIA: ‘Trust me, I’m like a smart person’
President Trump, in a Saturday visit to CIA headquarters, promised his full support for the intelligence agency while insisting reports of his feud with the agency were bogus.
“There is nobody who cares more about the CIA, nobody,” Trump declared to cheers from about 400 employees. “… I want you to know I am so behind you. You’re going to get so much backing that maybe you’re going to say, ‘Mr. President, we don’t need that much backing.’
“But you’re going to have that.”
The trip to Langley, Va., was the new President’s first official order of business after his Friday inauguration and a Saturday morning prayer service.
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He was introduced by Vice President Pence, but was soon delivering a meandering address where he attacked the media and insisted the attendance at his inauguration was undercounted.
Trump claimed as many as 1.5 million people attended his inauguration rather than the widely reported estimate of 250,000. Ignoring photos and video to the contrary, he also claimed the National Mall audience stretched as far as the Washington monument.
In another non-sequitur, Trump declared to the nation’s top spies that he was a bright guy despite those who might claim otherwise.
Trump, who is the President, spends a chunk of his speech insisting that he is very smart. (Olivier Douliery / POOL/EPA)
“And then they say, ‘Is Donald Trump an intellectual?’ ” Trump said. “Trust me, I’m like a smart person.”
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His remarks garnered dismay from former CIA director John Brennan after Trump used the agency’s tribute to fallen agents as a backdrop for his speech.
The stars on the CIA Memorial Wall represent each employee who has died in service of their country.
“Former CIA Dir Brennan is deeply saddened and angered at Trump’s despicable display of self-aggrandizement,” former CIA spokesman Nick Shapiro said on behalf of Brennan. “Brennan says that Trump should be ashamed of himself.”
Shapiro, himself, told the Daily News it was “upsetting” that Trump spoke in front of the marble wall.
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The new President said the timing of his Langley visit was a response to stories from his favorite target: “The dishonest media.”
“The reason you are my first stop (is) my running war with the media, among the most dishonest people on the face of the earth, right?” he said.
“And they sort of made it sound like I had a feud with the intelligence committee, and the reason this is the No. 1 stop is it’s the exact opposite.”
The President bumped heads with U.S. intelligence agencies over their conclusions that Russia tried to swing last year’s presidential election in his favor.
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The New York Times has reported that the CIA is one of several agencies looking at intercepted communications and financial dealings between Russia and Trump associates.
Trump had suggested Brennan was a “leaker of fake news.”
The commander-in-chief also found time to go after Time magazine over a story that inaccurately reported the President had removed a bust of Martin Luther King Jr. from the Oval Office.
Reiterating a campaign theme, Trump said eliminating Islamic State terrorists was one of his administration’s top priorities.
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“We have to get rid of ISIS — no choice,” Trump declared. “Radical Islamic terrorism has to be eradicated off the face of the earth. … This is a level of evil we’ve never seen.
“We’re going to end it. It’s time, it’s time right now to end it.”
Without mentioning former President Obama, Trump said the U.S. had previously failed to use “our real abilities. We’ve been restrained.”
The Manhattan billionaire had also blasted Obama and Hillary Clinton for their reluctance to use the words “radical Islamic terrorism.”
Trump wrapped up his pep talk with a promise that things would change for the better under his leadership.
“I love you, I respect you, there’s nobody I respect more,” he said. “And we’re going to start winning again, and you’re going to lead the charge.”