The chairman of Donald Trump’s Inaugural Committee, Tom Barrack Jr., says he thinks it was appropriate for the President to use his speech to the CIA as an opportunity to complain about reports on the crowd size at his inauguration.
Trump stopped at CIA headquarters to deliver the speech in front of a wall where fallen operatives are remembered.
“There is nobody that feels stronger about the intelligence community and the CIA than Donald Trump, there is nobody,” Trump said. But he also spent time telling the hundreds of CIA employees that the media were among “the most dishonest human beings on Earth” and accused television stations of lying about the crowd size at his inauguration Friday.
“I think it’s appropriate,” Barrack, a longtime friend to Trump, said on CNN’s show “Smerconish” Saturday.
“He talked to them like he would to a rally group instead of the protocol, what everyone was anticipating might be done to an Intelligence community,” he said, speculating that the approach was what people found upsetting.
“But the consistency of the man is he gave them straight talk,” he said.
Former CIA Director Brennan released a statement about the speech in which he said he was “deeply saddened and angered at Donald Trump’s despicable display of self-aggrandizement in front of CIA’s Memorial Wall of Agency heroes.” Brennan added that Trump “should be ashamed of himself.”
Barrack told Smerconish that the crowd sizes are not “worthy” of all the media scrutiny, and gave a rationale behind Trump’s thinking.
“I think what upset him was the tweeting. In other words, if he’s criticized for tweeting and being irresponsible on the set of facts, than he holds the press equally accountable. This all started from a tweet,” Barrack explains.
“It got started from a tweet from a New York Times reporter that got retweeted by the National Park Services.” The agency was temporarily asked to halt their Twitter activities, according to a message obtained by CNN.
Smerconish advised Barrack talk to President Trump, suggesting that he say, “Mr. President, you can’t engage CIA personnel in a conversation about crowd size at your inauguration. Or, trash the media in front of the CIA. For goodness sakes, you’re standing in front of a wall where we’re paying homage to those that we’ve lost in service to their country. Can you say that, and do you say that to him?”
“He would accept that a thousand percent,” Barrack said.
“He got a standing ovation from all of the CIA staff because I think they finally felt the personality of the man.”