- REUTERS/Carlos Barria
President Donald Trump addressed the CIA on Saturday, amid increasing tension between the new administration and the US intelligence community.
“I am so behind you,” Trump told the assembled CIA employees. “You’re going to get so much backing.”
“You’re going to get so much backing, you’re going to say, please don’t give us so much backing. Mr. President, please don’t give us so much backing,” Trump said. “I am with you 1,000%”
Trump raged against the intelligence community prior to taking office on Friday over an unverified dossier documenting Russia’s alleged attempts to compromise Trump, as well as more general questions of Russia’s involvement in hacking the 2016 election.
However, on Saturday, one day after taking office, Trump assured the assembled CIA employees that “there is nobody that feels stronger about the intelligence community and the CIA than Donald Trump.”
Trump gave his remarks in front of a wall honoring CIA officers who have been killed in the line of duty.
The president also continued to hammer themes from his campaign, specifically calling out what he characterized as the “dishonest media,” and discussed how the crowd for his Inauguration Day speech on Friday “went all the way to the National Monument.”
“I have a running war with the media,” Trump said, and further complained that the media showed an “empty field” for his speech.
- AP Photo/Patrick Semansky
Trump’s remarks – delivered without a teleprompter – also touched on his administration’s priorities for “defeating ISIS,” and “eradicating Islamic terrorism” from the world.
The president continued, discussing his pick to lead the CIA, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS), as well as his intellectual credentials, pointing to an uncle who was a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“Trust me, I’m like a smart person,” Trump said.
The pool report notes that the senior CIA officials at the front of the crowd grew more “subdued,” as Trump’s remarks drifted away from the intended message.
At one point during the speech, Trump discussed how he feels “young,” and that when he was young, “we were always winning things in this country.”
“We would win with trade. Would win with wars. And at a certain age, I remember hearing from one of my instructors the United States has never lost a war,” Trump said. “And then after that, it’s like, we haven’t won anything.”