On his first full day in office, Donald Trump sought to end his long-running feud with the CIA — and to escalate his war against objective reality and the people tasked with describing it.
In early December, news broke that the American intelligence community believed that Russia had interfered in the 2016 election with the intention of aiding Trump’s candidacy. Shortly after such reports surfaced, the then-president-elect began vilifying the American spy state.
Trump argued that the CIA was full of the “same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction”; accused “intelligence” officials — the quotation marks, his own — of pursuing a political witch hunt meant to undermine his presidency; lambasted the intelligence agencies for spreading “fake news” in a manner akin to “Nazi Germany”; and suggested that the former director of the CIA, John Brennan, might be personally responsible for disseminating propaganda.
But on Saturday, the president informed the CIA that all of those statements were, themselves, fake news propagated by the dishonest media.
“They sort of made it sound like I had a feud with the intelligence community,” Trump said, referring to the press. “I just want to let you know, the reason you’re the number one stop is it is exactly the opposite.”
Trump went on to describe how overwhelmed the CIA would soon be by his support.
“There is nobody that feels stronger about the intelligence community and the CIA than Donald Trump,” the president said. “I am so behind you. I know maybe sometimes you haven’t gotten the backing that 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. Mr. President, please, we don’t need so much backing.’”
But his true feelings about the CIA weren’t the only things that the media had “lied” about. On Friday, many news outlets took note of the fact that the crowd at Trump’s inauguration appeared considerably smaller than those Barack Obama had attracted in 2013 and 2009.
The president remembered things differently.
“I get up this morning and I turn on one of the networks and they show an empty field,” Trump said. “I said wait a minute, I made a speech, I looked out, the field was, it looked like a million, a million and a half people … it went all the way back to the Washington Monument.”
“So, we caught” the media, Trump said, “and we caught them in beauty. And I think they’re going to pay a big price.”
After describing the million-member crowd that only he could see, the president informed the intelligence analysts that God, himself, was among those in attendance.
“It was almost raining — the rain should have scared them away — but God looked down and he said ‘we are not going to let it rain on your speech’ … and then it poured right after I left,” Trump said.
In fact, a light rain fell through the first few minutes of Trump’s speech, and no downpour followed its conclusion.
At other points, Trump criticized the Senate for holding up his confirmation picks, reiterated his belief that the United States should have confiscated Iraq’s oil, and pledged to win the war against ISIS.
But a different conflict seemed closer to the front of the president’s mind.
“I have a running war with the media,” the commander-in-chief said. “They are among the most dishonest human beings on earth, right?”
The crowd of intelligence officials applauded, raucously.