(CNSNews.com) - CIA employees cheered and applauded President Donald Trump when Vice President Mike Pence introduced him at agency headquarters on Saturday. And they cheered him again when he finished his speech, which has been blasted as disrespectful by the liberal media and by Barack Obama's CIA Director John Brennan.
"He was well-received," Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said on Sunday. Nunes, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told CNN's "State of the Union" that Trump planned the visit in advance, intending to swear in Rep. Mike Pompeo, his nominee for CIA director.
"I found out a few days ago that Donald Trump was planning on going to the agency to swear in Mike Pompeo, because there had been an agreement in the Senate that all the national security folks would be approved on the first day. And that didn't happen," Nunes said.
"So, I think it's important to remember that Donald Trump had scheduled that in advance in order to swear in Mike Pompeo."
Nunes said Trump didn't want to change his schedule. "So he went out there, met with the CIA. I think he was briefed. And you know, the agents that were there, the CIA employees -- they were excited to be there. And in fact, I spoke to a few last night who I thought maybe were there, so I wanted to get their opinion on what they thought. And they said, we didn't get a chance to go because it sold out so quickly."
(Seating was free but limited to 400 people.)
President Trump delivered his extemporaneous remarks in front of the CIA's Memorial Wall, marked by stars representing the CIA agents, publicly unnamed, who have died in the line of duty to their country.
A spokesman for former CIA Director John Brennan issued a statement, saying: "Former CIA Director Brennan is deeply saddened and angered at Donald Trump's despicable display of self-aggrandizement in front of the CIA's Memorial Wall of Agency Heroes. Brennan says that Trump should be ashamed of himself."
The media coverage also was caustic and negative.
But the CIA employees listening to Trump frequently applauded, laughed and even cheered.
According to a Federal News Service transcript of Trump's remarks, the president drew "applause" 15 times; "laughter" 13 times; and "cheering" three times.
Some examples: The crowd laughed when Trump mentioned the "dishonest media" in the beginning of his speech.
He was applauded when he said, "There is nobody that feels stronger about the intelligence community and the CIA than Donald Trump. There's nobody."
The crowd laughed when Trump promised to give the CIA so much support, "Maybe you'll say, don't give us so much backing."
They laughed when he joked about everyone in the room "probably" voting for him. "But I will not ask you to raise your hands if you did," he said with a smile. "But I guarantee a big portion, because we're all on the same wavelength. We're all on the same wavelength." The crowd applauded.
Trump was applauded when he said, "We have to get rid of ISIS."
He was applauded when he mentioned the confirmation of three of his nominees – Jack Kelly (DHS), Mike Flynn (NSA) and James Mattis (DOD).
The crowd laughed when Trump said he's a "smart person" who recognizes similar qualities in his nominee for CIA director.
"You're going to be getting a total gem," he said of Mike Pompeo. The crowd applauded.
Trump told the CIA employees that they are going to be "one of the most important groups in this country toward making us safe, toward making us winners again, toward ending all of the problems. We have so many problems that are interrelated to the kind of havoc and fear that the sick group of people has caused.
"So I can only say that I am with you a thousand percent. And the reason you're my first stop is, as you know, I have a running war with the media. They are among the most dishonest human beings on earth."
The crowd laughed and applauded.
"And they sort of made it sound like I had a feud with the intelligence community. And I just want to let you know, the reason you're the number-one stop is exactly the opposite. Exactly. And they understand that, too."
Trump, speaking without a prepared script, then veered into his inaugural speech. "Did everybody like the speech?" he asked. The CIA employees applauded.
He complained about the media making it look like he spoke to an "empty field." And he drew more laughter when he joked that "God looked down and said, we're not going to let it rain on your speech."
The crowd also laughed when Trump said he turned on, "by mistake," the wrong cable TV network and saw the side-by-side crowd comparisons between his inaugural and Barack Obama's.
Trump meandered, joking about how many times he's been on the cover of Time magazine compared with Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
And finally, the president wound up his remarks:
"I will tell you, final time, although I will say it, when you let in the thousands of other people that have been trying to come in -- because I am coming back -- we have to get you a larger room."
"We'll have to get you a larger room. You know?" Trump joked.
"And maybe, maybe it will be built by somebody that knows how to build. And we won't have columns."
"You understand that?"
"We get rid of the columns," he joked. "But, no, I just wanted to really say that I love you, I respect you, there's nobody I respect more. You're going to do a fantastic job. And we're going to start winning again and you'll be leading the charge. So, thank you all very much. Thank you. Beautiful."
"Thank you all very much. Have a good time."
"I'll be back. I'll be back."