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
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
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
"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
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.