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Trump Seeks To Reassure CIA Staff At Headquarters Rally

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Trump Seeks To Reassure CIA Staff At Headquarters Rally

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LANGLEY, Va./WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump tried to ease tensions with the CIA on Saturday, telling officers he had their back after he had leveled unprecedented criticism against spy agencies for their investigation into Russian hacking during the election.

In his first official visit to a government agency as president, Trump – who had said U.S. intelligence tactics were reminiscent of Nazi Germany – sought to leave no doubt with officers that he supported their work.

Even so, some analysts said it would take more than a quick visit for Trump to patch up relations with a community that he has denigrated. A large part of Trump’s off-the-cuff remarks on Saturday were not related to the work of the CIA, at times sounding more like a campaign rally than an address to intelligence professionals.

Trump made no mention of Russia during his remarks, which included praise for his nominee to head the Central Intelligence Agency, Mike Pompeo, a pledge to fight Islamic State and a rant against the media, which he said invented his feud with intelligence agencies.

“Very, very few people could do the job you people do and I want you to know I am so behind you,” Trump said, to cheers and loud applause from about 400 officers who packed the building’s atrium to hear him speak.

Ahead of his inauguration, Trump had harshly criticized intelligence officials after they concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin directed hackers to breach Democratic emails to try to boost Trump’s presidential election campaign. He has since accepted those conclusions.

Then, after leaks about an unsubstantiated dossier compiled by a private security firm suggesting Moscow had compromising information about him, Trump blamed intelligence agencies for using Nazi-like tactics – drawing a rebuke from outgoing CIA Director John Brennan.

Trump has said he wants to try to work with Moscow to fight Islamic State militants and reduce stockpiles of nuclear weapons.

He said reporters made up the tension between him and the CIA. “I have a running war with the media. They are among the most dishonest people on earth,” Trump said. “They made it sound like I had a feud with the intelligence people.”

Trump also slammed media for showing images of “an empty field” from his inauguration on the National Mall while he claimed that the crowd “went all the way back to the Washington Monument.” And he called out by name a reporter who had made an error in a White House press pool report.

While Trump has some support in the U.S. intelligence community, his criticism over the Russia issue eroded much of it. Within the 17-agency intelligence community, there are widely shared concerns about the qualifications and judgment of Trump, a businessman and television star who never before held public office.

Some veteran analysts who have spent their careers studying foreign dictators and autocrats have said they are troubled by Trump’s style, saying his negativity, egotism and appeals to nationalism are hallmarks of autocratic regimes.

“Many people are asking whether we can serve under a president and national security adviser who’ve expressed such contempt for the intelligence community, and one photo opportunity drive-by on a Saturday is not going to change that,” said a veteran officer now working at CIA headquarters after multiple assignments overseas, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Paul Pillar, a former top U.S. intelligence analyst on the Middle East, said Trump’s digressions during the speech show that “even when he is in their own building he can’t be bothered to focus on their work.”

Representative Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House of Representatives’ intelligence committee, said Trump’s speech in front of a memorial wall with stars representing CIA personnel killed in action was “little more than a perfunctory acknowledgment of their service and sacrifice.”

Trump had originally hoped to swear in Pompeo as his new CIA chief during the visit to the spy agency. But the Senate has not yet confirmed the Kansas Republican representative for the job. That vote is expected on Monday.

Trump and Pompeo received briefings at the CIA headquarters before the president made remarks.

Trump vowed he would return to speak with officers again. He said fighting Islamic State militants would be a priority for the agency, saying “radical Islamic terrorism” had to be eradicated.

“We have not used the real abilities that we have. We’ve been restrained,” Trump said. It was not immediately clear what he meant by restraints.

During his campaign, Trump pledged to bring back the use of waterboarding, a simulated drowning technique that former President Barack Obama had banned as torture.

But Pompeo and Trump’s new defense secretary, James Mattis, have told Congress they would oppose a return to the interrogation technique.

(Additional reporting by John Walcott; Writing by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Alistair Bell and Leslie Adler)

IMAGE: President Donald Trump leaves the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) headquarters accompanied by National security adviser General Michael Flynn (2nd L)  after delivering remarks during a visit in Langley, Virginia U.S., January 21, 2017. U.S. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

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11 Comments

  1. Aaron_of_Portsmouth January 22, 2017

    As one report put it to summarize Trump’s 1st day of activity on the job: Trump prayed, he met with the CIA, and attacked the Media.

    What an interesting and typically twisted path Donald embarked on, as expected.

    Praying in a Trump fashion, as already anticipated long ago by us, is a formulaic ritual done to impress those watching while having little impact on the soul. Maybe because of lack of sincerity on his part, because who would previously attack the CIA, would disingenuously meet them and say what a great job they do, and then later would proceed to vilify the Press openly and with the usual vehemence w/o any attenuation induced by a show of praying—-all this in a sequential manner.

    As expected, and will be the case throughout his barren term, Trump proves that he can never change his spots, no more than a leopard could.

    Reply
    1. Eversutton January 23, 2017

      Google is paying 97$ per hour! Work for few hours and have longer with friends & family! !mj221d:
      On tuesday I got a great new Land Rover Range Rover from having earned $8752 this last four weeks.. Its the most-financialy rewarding I’ve had.. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it
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      Reply
    2. iamproteus January 23, 2017

      He reminds me of a kid who takes a bite out of his mom’s freshly baked cake and then tries to cover it up with the extra frosting in hopes that she won’t notice!

      Reply
  2. ps0rjl January 22, 2017

    Trump says he doesn’t believe our intelligence system when he was running for office. Now he go to the CIA and tells them it was the press that said that. But his followers will believe him no matter what he says and he knows that. In his administration up is down and down is up until he goes a few days and changes it. Oh and he also blames the media for his first stupid remarks. The man will never take responsibility for anything he says.

    Reply
  3. mary5920 January 22, 2017

    I know it’s hard not to focus on all the ridiculous things that this twisted man says and does, the real threat to us all is the cabal that wants to roll back the New Deal and over 100 years of progress on human rights. Pence, Ryan, McConnell and the rest are more systematic, dogmatic and they’ll be the real instigators of these things. They’re more than happy to have Drumpf up front, drawing all the anger (at least for now)

    Reply
  4. Chuckl8 January 22, 2017

    “Some veteran analysts who have spent their careers studying foreign dictators and autocrats have said they are troubled by Trump’s style, saying his negativity, egotism and appeals to nationalism are hallmarks of autocratic regimes.”

    Finally, someone has the courage to mention the obvious. The next piece of the Trump puzzle that needs to be mentioned is the fact that Trump has some serious, and dangerous mental defects. On a reality TV show, such defects are expected, and encouraged.

    But those defects in the individual with the “nuclear suitcase” just inches away (and shown in the photo above) can be devastating.

    Reply
    1. FireBaron January 23, 2017

      Holy Sweet Effin’ Jayzus! I hadn’t noticed it at first!

      Reply
  5. johninPCFL January 22, 2017

    A better replay of the speech would have been “Putin says you guys are great! Your control officers from the KGB will be in touch next week to direct your more proficiently in how the election wasn’t influenced.”

    Reply
  6. Thoughtopsy January 22, 2017

    Hahahahaha
    Imagine what those 400 CIA officers were thinking in that room sitting there listening to the Liar-in-Chief. These are the guys who understand who he is. They manipulate people like him all the time.

    Makes me giggle.

    Reply
  7. FireBaron January 23, 2017

    Here is an excerpt from that speech:

    “First, remember that I am smarter than everyone else in this room, and that I know more about intelligence than every intelligence agency in the history of the world! That is because I am more intelligent than everyone else in the history of the world! Just ask any of my ex-wives! Or my foreign-born wife that I tell everything to, so she can tell all of her relatives back in Slovenia!
    “So just remember that when you bring your so-called ‘intelligence’ to me. I will know immediately if it is real or not, because I am the most intelligent person in the history of the Universe!”
    Well, I guess that means we will now have a President that is too intelligent to be bamboozled by “fabricated intelligence” by a Vice-President looking to improve his “former” company’s business in the Middle East. Nope. Now it will be from the Secretary of State looking to improve HIS “former” company’s business, especially in Russia!

    Reply
  8. I of John January 23, 2017

    Sorry, Trump these folks do not play that game. They are serious people. Scary good and scary bad. And you already peed in their collective beds and stood in front of a memorial for their fallen and lied to them. No photo ops fix that kind of thing. Trump says he has their backs, but they know that isn’t true. He, in the end, should best watch his own.

    Reply

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