Report: Trump Stocked Audience At CIA Speech With Cheering Supporters

Olivier Douliery/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

Invited guests of President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and CIA director nominee Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) cheered and laughed at the President’s remarks at CIA headquarters on Saturday, according to a new report.

CBS News cited unnamed U.S. government sources who claimed that the first three rows in the audience at Trump’s speech were filled in part with supporters, including about 40 people who were invited by Trump, Pence and Pompeo.

CIA leadership in the front row did not cheer in response to Trump’s remarks, the report said.

According to print pool reports filed from the event, around 400 members of the CIA workforce attended the speech. Another pool report posted online by NBC’s Katy Tur notes that senior CIA leadership standing in the front row cheered less often, and at less politically volatile lines, than “the main crowd” of general agency staff.

It would be highly unusual for members of the CIA, who consider themselves apart from partisan politics, to laugh and cheer for lines from Trump, including him calling the media the “dishonest human beings.”

A large round of applause could be heard after Trump said he would guarantee that “a big portion” of the crowd had voted for him.

A pool report shared by CBS News’ Robert Gifford noted that much of the cheering also came from the side of the stage, although poolers couldn’t identify those people. The pool report also noted that senior CIA officials grew more “subdued” as the speech went on.

At a press conference later in the day, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer claimed that a “raucous overflow crowd” of CIA employees “were ecstatic that he’s the new Commander-in-Chief.”

“They gave him a five-minute standing ovation at the end in a display of their patriotism and their enthusiasm for his presidency,” he said.

It wouldn’t be the first time Trump has filed formal audiences with enthusiastic allies. At his first press conference since winning the election earlier this month, observers were stunned to hear cheers and jeering coming from off-camera. Later, it was reported that dozens of members of Trump’s staff had provided the sound effects.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously assistant editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.
LIKE US ON FACEBOOK