Newsweek reports: Trump told the assembled spies, analysts and managers that “the dishonest media” had “made it sound like I had a feud” with them, implying that he only had a beef with CIA Director John Brennan, who resigned Friday, and other top spy agency officials.
“I am so behind you,” the president told the crowd assembled in the agency foyer, which is dominated by the CIA’s seal on the floor and Memorial Wall of stars denoting the nearly 120, mostly anonymous men and women who have died in the spy agency’s service since its founding in 1947. Trump spokesman Sean Spicer tweeted earlier Saturday that the event would draw “over capacity at 300+.”
But Trump’s seemingly warm reception might have been manufactured, according to The Washington Post’s lead fact-checker, Glenn Kessler. “The pool reports indicate the cheering and clapping was not from the CIA staffers but people who accompanied Trump,” Kessler tweeted.
Brennan also deplored the rally-style event, according to his former deputy chief of staff Nick Shapiro. Brennan “is deeply saddened and angered at Donald Trump’s despicable display of self-aggrandizement in front of CIA’s Memorial Wall of Agency heroes,” Shapiro said in a statement provided to Newsweek. “Trump should be ashamed of himself.”
George Little, former CIA Director Leon Panetta’s spokesman, also took deep offense at Trump’s staging the event in what amounts to hallowed ground at the agency.
“Today the president of the United States stood in front of the Memorial Wall honoring the CIA’s fallen and mocked key institutions of our democracy, threatened to steal Iraq’s oil, and used what is supposed to be a non-political government agency — one he recently accused of Nazi-style behavior — as a political backdrop,” Little wrote on his Facebook page. “This will go down as the most disastrous speech ever given at CIA Headquarters.” [Continue reading…]