On Saturday, as approximately 500,000 demonstrators gathered for the Women’s March on Washington, Donald Trump visited the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) for the first time as president. But instead of using the face time to build a productive relationship for the future, Trump chided the media for its coverage of his inauguration. And he’s already been slammed by the most recent CIA director for doing so.
“Former CIA Director [John] 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,” Nick Shapiro, Brennan’s deputy chief of staff, said on behalf of the agency’s former leader.
Speaking in front of the memorial, Trump criticized the “dishonest” media for under-reporting the number of people who showed up to support him on Inauguration Day.
“I made a speech, I looked out, the field — it looked like a million, a million and a half people,” Trump said. “They showed a field where there was practically nobody standing there… and it said we drew 250,000 people. Now, that’s not bad, but it’s a lie.”
Following his remarks, Brennan, who became the CIA director in 2013, declared that “Trump should be ashamed of himself.”
The new president is already treading on shaky ground, as the intelligence community investigates Russia’s interference in the most recent election and financial ties to Trump and his colleagues. Besides brief applause for his intent to support the intelligence community, Trump received a lukewarm response from senior CIA officials.
“When Trump began drifting into the more political sections of his speech, the main crowd broke into cheese and applause at points,” NBC reporter Katy Tur said of the event. “The senior leadership remained stoic, and did not applaud the more political lines.”
Trump’s choice to replace Brennan, Mike Pompeo, has yet to be confirmed.