Trump blames media for feud with intelligence agencies
President Donald Trump attempted to mend his relationship with America's intelligence agencies Saturday, blaming the media for creating an impression of a feud between him and the agencies.
Speaking at the CIA headquarters on his first full day in office, Trump assured officials that he supports and respects their work, saying: "I am so behind you."
However, Trump quickly shifted from praise for the CIA to criticism of media coverage of his inauguration, saying that the real number of the crowd was greatly underreported.
Trump said throngs of his supporters "went all the way back to the Washington monument," despite photos and live video showing the crowd stopping well short of the Washington landmark.
Trump's decision to visit CIA headquarters just outside of Washington was aimed at making a public gesture to the intelligence officials he disparaged during the transition.
He had repeatedly challenged the agencies' assessment that Russia meddled in the presidential race to help him win and suggested intelligence officials were behind the leak of an unverified dossier that claimed Russia had collected compromising financial or personal information about him.
During remarks to about 400 CIA officials, Trump erroneously denied that he had a feud with the intelligence community, saying it was "exactly the opposite."
He again blamed the media for creating that impression, despite the fact that he made numerous public statements critical of intelligence officials.
The 45th president's inauguration has been shadowed by news reports that the CIA and other federal agencies are investigating Russian interference in the presidential election on behalf of Trump."There is nobody that feels stronger about the intelligence community and CIA than Donald Trump," he said. "There's nobody."
The New York Times, citing anonymous officials, said agencies were examining intercepted communications and financial transactions between Russian officials and Trump's associates.
FBI Director James Comey has declined to confirm or describe the nature of the government's investigation, both during a congressional hearing and in closed-door meetings with members of Congress.
Agencies contributed to this report.