President Donald Trump made a rare visit to CIA headquarters on Monday to deliver remarks at incoming director Gina Haspel’s swearing-in ceremony and expressed his optimism for the agency’s future under her leadership.
"There is no one in this country better qualified for this extraordinary office than you," Trump said.
Haspel's nomination followed President Trump's surprise ouster of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who he replaced with Haspel's immediate predecessor Mike Pompeo. President Trump hailed her appointment as the first female director of the CIA as a "proud milestone."
"That's big," Trump said. "Now Gina will lead this agency into its next great chapter."
Early on in the president's remarks, he gave a special shout-out to House Intelligence chairman Devin Nunes as “courageous. ”
It followed the president’s weekend tweets backing up Nunes and other House Republicans looking to increase pressure on the Department of Justice complying with their requests for information reportedly concerning a confidential informant.
The president also briefly alluded to the political fight Haspel underwent during her confirmation, referring to the “very negative politics” that surfaced as lawmakers raised objections over Haspel's reported role running a CIA 'black site' in Thailand.
“It took courage for her to say yes in the face of a lot of very negative politics, and what was supposed to be a negative vote,” Trump said. “But I'll tell you, when you testified before the committee, it was over. There was not much they could say.”
For her part, despite the president’s repeated clashes with the intelligence community, Haspel delivered her own set of remarks describing Trump as a steadfast friend of the CIA.
“You have placed enormous trust in the C.I.A. throughout your presidency,” Haspel said. “And the men and women of C.I.A. do not take that for granted.”