Trump praises new CIA director

Published May 21, 2018, 11:58 PM

by Roel Tibay

By the Associated Press

President Donald Trump praised new CIA Director Gina Haspel at her swearing-in ceremony Monday, saying there was “no one in this country better qualified” for the job.

 Incoming Central Intelligence Agency director Gina Haspel is sworn in by Vice President Mike Pence during a ceremony at CIA Headquarters, Monday, May 21, 2018, in Langley, Va. From left, Haspel, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, President Donald Trump, and Pence. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci/ MANILA BULLETIN)

Incoming Central Intelligence Agency director Gina Haspel is sworn in by Vice President Mike Pence during a ceremony at CIA Headquarters, Monday, May 21, 2018, in Langley, Va. From left, Haspel, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, President Donald Trump, and Pence. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci/ MANILA BULLETIN)

Striking a different tone than in his previous visit to the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Northern Virginia, Trump hailed the agency staffers, calling them the “most elite intelligence professionals on the planet” and promised them the “the tools, the resources and the support they need.”

The Senate confirmed Haspel last week after overcoming concerns about her role in the agency’s use of harsh interrogation techniques after 9/11. Trump said she showed courage during the process in the face of “very negative politics.”

When Trump last visited the CIA headquarters in 2017, he spent much of his remarks at the time focused on settling scores with the media. Last year Trump spoke in front of a wall in the headquarters marked with stars that represented fallen CIA officers. This year, he paid tribute to the lost lives, saying “their stories of service and sacrifice and daring will live for all time.”

Hours before Trump visited CIA headquarters, he struck a different tone, promoting criticism of former CIA Director John Brennan and suggesting Brennan is to blame for the Russia probe.

On Twitter Monday, Trump referenced comments from conservative commentator Dan Bongino on “Fox and Friends,” which argued that Brennan “started this entire debacle.” Bongino, a former Secret Service agent, also said Brennan had “disgraced the intelligence community.”

Brennan became the agency’s director in 2013 under President Barack Obama, and served until January 2017. He has been a vocal critic of Trump.

 
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