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Trump Praises CIA, Disputes Crowd Size 01/22 10:17

   On his first full day in office, President Donald Trump on Saturday berated 
the media over its coverage of his inauguration, and turned a bridge-building 
first visit to CIA headquarters into an airing of grievances about "dishonest" 
journalists. But it was Trump who spread inaccuracies about the size of the 
crowds at his swearing in.

   LANGLEY, Va. (AP) -- On his first full day in office, President Donald Trump 
on Saturday berated the media over its coverage of his inauguration, and turned 
a bridge-building first visit to CIA headquarters into an airing of grievances 
about "dishonest" journalists. But it was Trump who spread inaccuracies about 
the size of the crowds at his swearing in.

   Standing in front of a memorial for fallen CIA agents, Trump assured 
intelligence officials, "I am so behind you." He made no mention of his 
repeated criticism of the intelligence agencies following the election, 
including his public challenges of their high-confidence assessment that Russia 
meddled in the White House race to help him win.

   "There is nobody that feels stronger about the intelligence community and 
CIA than Donald Trump," he said, blaming any suggestion of a "feud" on the 
media.

   Trump's decision to travel to CIA headquarters so quickly after taking 
office was seen as an attempt at a fresh start with the intelligence agencies 
he will now rely on for guidance as he makes weighty national security 
decisions. Following his private meeting with top CIA leaders, Trump said the 
U.S. had been "restrained" in its efforts to combat terrorism, calling the 
threat "a level of evil we haven't seen."

   But in unscripted, stream-of-consciousness remarks, Trump appeared more 
focused on settling scores with the media.

   He defensively touted the crowd size for his swearing-in ceremony, wrongly 
claiming that the throngs on the National Mall stretched "all the way back to 
the Washington Monument." Photos and video clearly showed the crowd stopping 
well short of the landmark.

   Trump's visit took place as throngs of women, many of them wearing bright 
pink, pointy-eared hats, descended on the nation's capital and other cities 
around the world for marches organized to push back against the new president. 
Hundreds of protesters lined the motorcade route as Trump sped back to the 
White House, many screaming and chanting at the president.

   The Washington rally alone attracted more than 500,000 people by the 
unofficial estimate of city officials. It appeared to be more people than 
attended Trump's inauguration on Friday, but there were no comparable numbers. 
The city did not release an estimate for the inauguration. The National Park 
Service does not provide crowd counts.

   During his remarks at the CIA, the president claimed the inaugural crowds 
topped 1 million people, offering no evidence.

   Suggestions that weak enthusiasm accompanied his inauguration clearly irked 
the new president. Shortly after his remarks, he dispatched his press 
secretary, Sean Spicer, to the White House briefing room to aggressively 
reinforce the message.

   "There's been a lot of talk in the media about holding Donald Trump 
accountable. And I'm here to tell you that it goes two ways. We're going to 
hold the press accountable as well," Spicer said in his first on-camera 
appearance at the White House.

   Trump, and later Spicer, also slammed a Time magazine reporter for 
incorrectly reporting Friday that Trump had moved a bust of Martin Luther King 
Jr. out of the Oval Office. But Trump followed with a misstatement of his own, 
saying the reporter had not corrected the mistake. In fact, the item was 
quickly retracted.

   High-level CIA brass stood largely silent during Trump's remarks, though 
some of the roughly 400 other officers in attendance cheered on the president 
during his remarks.

   California Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence 
Committee, slammed Trump for using his CIA visit to squabble over media 
coverage.

   "He will need to do more than use the agency memorial as a backdrop if he 
wants to earn the respect of the men and women who provide the best 
intelligence in the world,' Schiff said.

   Former CIA Director John Brennan went further. His former aide Nick Shapiro 
released a statement saying "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. Brennan says that Trump should be ashamed of himself."

   The inaugural celebrations have been shadowed by reports that the CIA and 
other federal agencies are investigating Russian interference in the 
presidential election on behalf of Trump. McClatchy reported that the 
investigation included whether money from the Kremlin covertly aided Trump. The 
New York Times said agencies were examining intercepted communications and 
financial transactions between Russian officials and Trump's associates.

   FBI Director James Comey has declined to confirm or describe the nature of 
the government's investigation, both during a congressional hearing and in 
closed-door meetings with members of Congress.

   Saturday marked the end of three days of inaugural celebrations, with Trump 
and his family attending a national prayer service traditionally held for the 
new president. The president and his wife, Melania, and Vice President Mike 
Pence and his wife, Karen, sat in a front pew at Washington National Cathedral 
for the morning service.

   The interfaith service is a tradition for new presidents and is hosted by 
the Episcopal parish. But the decision to hold a prayer session for Trump 
sparked debate among Episcopalians opposed to his policies.

   Bishop Mariann Budde of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington wrote in a blog 
post that while she shared "a sense of outrage at some of the president-elect's 
words and actions," she felt an obligation to welcome all people without 
qualification, especially those who disagree and need to find a way to work 
together.

   Trump arrived at the cathedral mid-morning. The service included readings 
and prayers from Protestant, Jewish, Sikh, Mormon, Buddhist, Roman Catholic, 
Baha'i, Episcopal, Hindu and Native American leaders. But the program was 
remarkable for the large number of evangelicals participating, including two 
former presidents of the Southern Baptist Convention, the country's largest 
evangelical denomination. Several speakers had served as Trump advisers and 
supporters who spoke at the Republican National Convention.


(KA)

 
 
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