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In bid to heal rift with CIA, Trump shifts blame to media

Trump recently likened the disclosure of a possible Russian dossier on himself to Nazi-like tactics. But now he's blaming the media, whom he also criticized for showing photos of his sparsely-attended inauguration.

US President Donald Trump sought to patch up his strained relationship with the CIA by shifting blame to the media on Saturday.

Trump recently slammed the intelligence community for the results of an investigation into the Russian hacking scandal. But the president was singing a different tune on Saturday when he visited the lead agency.

"I am with you 1,000 percent," Trump said in a short address to CIA staff after his visit to the agency headquarters in Virginia.

"Very, very few people could do the job you people do and I want you to know I am so behind you," Trump said, to cheers and loud applause.

Trump harshly criticized US intelligence agencies after they concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin directed hackers to steal Democratic emails in an attempt to boost Trump's presidential election campaign.

Subsequently, there were leaks about an unsubstantiated dossier, compiled by a private security firm in Britain, suggesting that Moscow had compromising information about him. Though it is unclear exactly where the information was leaked from, Trump blamed the intelligence agencies and accused them of using Nazi-like tactics.

But some analysts said Trump would need more than a quick visit to the CIA to make things right. His feud with the country's intelligence community, in the run-up to his inauguration, was unprecedented.

Shifting the blame

He addressed CIA agents for about 15 minutes, but never mentioned Russia during his off-the-cuff comments.

Instead, he shifted blame from the intelligence community to the media, and called the reporters who broke the story "among the most dishonest human beings on earth."

Former CIA deputy director Michael Morell said Trump's visit to the CIA would be "an important and positive gesture."

Speaking before Trump's speech, Morell said, "The real test of the relationship between the president and his most important intelligence agency, though, will depend on how open he is to what CIA has to say about what is happening in the world."

Trump said fighting so-called "Islamic State" (IS) militants would be a priority for the agency, saying "radical Islamic terrorism" had to be eradicated.

"We're all on the same wavelength, right?" he asked, referring in particular to the fight against IS. "We have not used the real abilities that we have. We've been restrained. We have to get rid of ISIS."

The president also took umbrage with television shots and still photos showing large expanses of open space between the crowds on the National Mall.. Trump insisted the shots were misleading and created a distorted image of the turnout.

bik/kl (Reuters, AFP)

 

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