Former CIA director and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said Monday that he was “concerned” about President Donald Trump’s Saturday remarks at the CIA and suggested that Trump should spend less time “embellishing himself.”
“I was concerned about the remarks that he made at the CIA in front of that wall,” Panetta said in an interview on CNN’s “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.”
He described the CIA Memorial Wall that Trump spoke in front of, which commemorates employees killed in the line of duty, as “hallowed ground” and compared it to Arlington Cemetery.
“I think to go off and start talking about the press, talking about how many people were at the inauguration, I just think that frankly that was not appropriate,” Panetta said. “I just think that the President needs to understand that he is president of the United States now. He’s not just a candidate. He doesn’t have to spend time embellishing himself or what he did.”
In his Saturday remarks at the agency, which were intended to thank the intelligence community, Trump talked about himself, his inauguration crowd, the dishonest media and how great his party was.
On Saturday night, former CIA Director John Brennan’s spokesman wrote that he was “deeply saddened and angered at Trump’s despicable display of self-aggrandizement.”
Top Trump staffers were quick to fire back on Sunday, suggesting that Brennan was “bitter” and saying he “sounded like a partisan political hack.”
Panetta said Monday that he would express “some of the same concerns” as Brennan.
“I just got the impression when he was speaking there that somehow he forgot that he was president of the United States,” Panetta said. “That was not the appropriate place to start whining about what was happening in terms of numbers at the inauguration and what have you.”