John Brennan, who ended his term as director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency on Friday with the end of Barack Obama's presidency, is indignant about remarks made on Saturday by President Donald Trump at CIA headquarters, Brennan's deputy chief of staff at the agency said.
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Trump spent much of his speech, which he gave in front of a memorial wall that honors the 117 CIA officers who have fallen in the line of duty, talking about the size of the crowd at his inauguration, his appearance on magazine covers and what he called his "running war with the media."
"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 deputy, Nick Shapiro, said in a statement. "Brennan says that Trump should be ashamed of himself."
In his first official visit to a government agency as president, Trump, who in the past likened U.S. intelligence to those of Nazi Germany, sought to leave no doubt with officers that he supported their work. The visit was seen as part of a bid to mend fences after he strained relations with intelligence officials by repeatedly casting doubt on their assessment that Russia had carried out cyberattacks during the campaign. He also suggested that the intelligence community was leaking information about the investigation to the press, taking to Twitter to slam Brennan, a 25-year veteran of the agency.
"I am with you 1,000%," Trump said after receiving intelligence briefings from top agency officials. "There is nobody that feels stronger about the intelligence community and the CIA than Donald Trump," he said to applause, adding at the end of his remarks, "I love you. I respect you. We're going to start winning again, and you're going to be leading the charge."
He also said that "we have not used the real capabilities we have" in the fight against "radical Islamic terrorism," which Trump said should be "eradicated off the face of the earth."
The CIA audience was separated into two sections: a main area of all agency staff and a separate section directly in front of the stage that consisted of senior agency leadership, including agents. During Trump's address, the senior leadership stood the entire time. When Trump began drifting into political topics, the main crowd broke into cheers and applause at points. The senior leadership remained stoic, and did not applaud the political lines.
Former CIA Director Mike Hayden, a Republican who opposed Trump, said he was "heartened that the President gave a speech at CIA," according to CNBC, but added: "It would have been even better if more of it had been about CIA."