President Donald Trump used part of his first full day in office to praise members of the CIA after weeks of publicly discrediting the intelligence community’s conclusion Russia interfered in the election.
Trump visited CIA headquarters, speaking in front of the row of anonymous stars representing agents killed in the line of duty. He pledged that the agency will receive his full support as president.
“I know sometimes you haven’t always gotten the backing you’ve wanted, and you’re going to get so much backing, maybe you’re going to say ‘please don’t give us so much backing,'” Trump said. “I am with you, 1,000 percent.”
The remarks came after weeks of Trump publicly questioning reports from the CIA, FBI, NSA and other federal agencies that concluded Russia intentionally interfered in the presidential election on Trump’s behalf. Trump denied the intelligence community’s findings, saying there was not enough evidence to conclude the Russian government was behind hacks into key Democratic Party groups and the email of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman. The hacks generated a steady stream of embarrassing leaks for Clinton and the Democrats throughout the election.
Before the visit Trump Press Secretary Sean Spicer told the Washington Post the president was “humbled” by the sacrifices of the agencies despite any disagreements.
“The men and women who so often serve in the intelligence community without recognition because of the very nature of the work they do, is something that he has a true understanding of, the sacrifice that they make,” Spicer said. “And so he has been very, very clear that while he may have differences sometimes with the leadership of the intelligence community, that the work of the individuals — men and women who tirelessly support the analysis and readings of the intelligence community — is something that he will continue to show his support for and his thanks.”
Earlier Saturday, Trump and first lady Melania Trump attended an interfaith prayer service at the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. They joined more than 25 clergy from across the country representing nine different faiths including Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism and Islam. The religious leaders offered prayers for the nation, the New York Daily News reported.
The Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith, the dean of Washington National Cathedral, opened the service by offering a prayer promoting a message of unity following Trump’s divisive presidential campaign, according to CNN.
“Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne through Jesus Christ our Lord,” he said.
Trump, who was not scheduled to speak at the service, sat quietly as clergy members led prayers. At the same time, thousands gathered outside the White House to support equal rights in the Women’s March on Washington.