He's not having it. Former CIA Director John Brennan was not impressed by Donald Trump’s visit to the CIA headquarters on Saturday, January 21, and he had no problem saying so.
“Former CIA Director 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’s former deputy chief of staff Nick Shapiro said in a statement. Added Shapiro, Brennan believes the new president “should be ashamed of himself” for the way he spoke while standing before the revered wall.
On Saturday, Trump, 70, traveled to CIA headquarters to deliver remarks to CIA officers who volunteered to be there, though his speech often veered off topic and touched upon everything from the size of his inaugural crowds, the dishonest media and even his own intelligence.
“There is nobody that feels stronger about the intelligence community and the CIA than Donald Trump,” he began his speech, according to Vanity Fair. “I am so behind you. You’re going to get so much backing. Maybe you’ll say, ‘Don’t give us so much backing, Mr. President, please. We don’t need that much backing.’ But you’re going to have that, and I think everybody in this room knows it.”
The president then launched into an attack on the media, who he claimed was responsible for the rift between himself and the intelligence community, though he previously slammed the CIA for its conclusion that Russia had tampered with the U.S. election.
Trump also boasted about the turnout at his inauguration, which he estimated to be “like a million, million and a half people,” a claim that has no substantiated evidence to support it. In fact, two crowd scientists estimated to The New York Times that there were likely about 160,000 people at Trump’s Friday inauguration, as compared to the estimated 470,000 at the Women’s March on Washington on Saturday.
The former Apprentice host couldn’t resist dropping a reference to his own intelligence as well during his statements, telling the crowd, “And then they say, ‘Is Donald Trump an intellectual?’ Trust me, I’m, like, a smart person.”
On Sunday, January 22, Trump’s counselor Kellyanne Conway criticized Brennan for his remarks about the president’s speech at the CIA, calling the former intelligence leader a “partisan political hack.”
“We really would prefer the intelligence community that’s going out the door to be much more respectful toward the president and his vision moving forward,” Conway said on ABC News’ This Week. “The intelligence community that we saw on their feet yesterday, welcoming President Trump for his rousing speech, is the one that we look forward to working with.”
Despite Trump’s controversial remarks, however, the president painted the event as a successful one. “Had a great meeting at CIA Headquarters yesterday, packed house, paid great respect to Wall, long standing ovations, amazing people,” he tweeted Sunday. “WIN!”
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