I am so behind you: Trump to CIA

Washington, Jan 22 (IANS) US President Donald Trump told CIA employees on Saturday at their headquarters in Langley, Virginia, “I am so behind you.”

“I am with you 1,000 per cent,” CNN quoted Trump as saying after he received intelligence briefings from top officials.

“There is nobody that feels stronger about the Intelligence Community and the CIA than Donald Trump,” Trump said to applause.

“I am so behind you,” Trump said, adding, “You’re going to get so much backing.”

Trump made his remarks in the headquarters lobby, in front of a memorial that features 117 stars that honour CIA officers who have been killed in the line of duty.

“The wall behind me is very very special,” Trump said.

Trump’s visit — he was greeted with enthusiastic applause by employees — is 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 carried out cyber-attacks during the US presidential election campaign.

Trump would eventually go on to say that Russia was “probably” behind the cyber intrusions. He also suggested that the Intelligence Community was leaking information about the investigation to the press, taking to twitter to slam the agency’s former Director, John Brennan.

At the CIA, Trump blamed the media for the perceived rift.

“CIA’s relationship with the President has been essential to our nation’s strength and security,” CNN quoted acting Director Meroe Park said prior to introducing Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

“I can assure you this new President and our entire team recognises and appreciates the sacrifices of all of the men and women of the intelligence community of the United States of America,” Pence told the assembled group.

The visit comes amid questions regarding the status of Trump’s choice to run the agency, Rep. Mike Pompeo.

The CIA is currently being led by acting Director Meroe Park, lacking a permanent chief, as the Senate has delayed Pompeo’s confirmation vote until Monday, with Democrats citing concerns about his positions on surveillance and other issues.

Pompeo has encountered some controversy after he submitted responses to a Senate questionnaire where he said he would consider bringing back waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation measures under certain circumstances.

–IANS

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