False: CNN's Jim Sciutto Claims Trump Never Honored CIA Wall of Heroes

January 25th, 2017 7:44 PM

CNN correspondent Jim Sciutto has demonstrated a tendency to get very outraged by the inaccuracy  Donald Trump’s rhetoric. Perhaps he should check the log in his own eye. CNN doesn’t put on screen that Sciutto worked in the Obama State Department, as chief of staff to Obama’s first ambassador to China, Gary Locke. On Monday, he insisted Donald Trump didn’t “say anything” about the wall of sacrifice behind him during his speech to employees at the Central Intelligence Agency. That turned out to be false.

Here’s what Sciutto said on Monday about the favorable crowd that Trump found. He dismissed them as “self-selecting” – as if Obama events at government agencies never drew a pro-Obama audience.


SCIUTTO: [I]t's our understanding that this was a self-selecting crowd, one, and there were many staffers who did that. But that doesn't -- regardless of how many people were clapping, it doesn't wipe away that the president told a lie at the CIA to say that the CIA -- that the media created this dispute, when he has repeatedly publicly undermined the intelligence community.

Just one more point I would make ,there was an opportunity here, which the president missed in front of that Memorial Wall at the CIA, was to say anything about the sacrifice of the 117 stars representing the people who died in the field for the Central Intelligence Agency.

Sean Spicer had an opportunity there [in the Monday press briefing] to say, and, listen, the president knows the great sacrifice. Right? So, it's two opportunities missed with what became really one of the core critiques from people inside the CIA, some who have been speaking to me privately, but some publicly. John Brennan, Ryan Crocker speaking to Robin Wright, who you had on your program earlier, they were upset that the president went there and he didn't say, I -- at the equivalent of their Arlington and didn't make a comment about that. I think that's an enormous missed opportunity for the press secretary.

That’s simply not accurate. [In her anti-Trump article at The New Yorker, Robin Wright was attentive enough to note it, and misquoted it as "special wall."] Trump strongly expressed his gratitude to the CIA, although his comments about the wall – made within a minute of this video’s beginning – may have seemed to be a brief tangent. He said the wall was “very, very special”:

TRUMP: I want to say there is nobody that feels stronger about the intelligence community and the CIA than Donald Trump, There’s nobody, nobody. [Sustained applause] The wall behind me is very, very special. We’ve been touring for quite a while, and I’ll tell you what – 29? I can’t believe it – well, 28. We better reduce it. That's amazing. And we really appreciate what you've done in terms of showing us something very special, and your whole group, these are really special amazing people. Very, very few people could do the job you people do. And I want to just let you know, I am so behind you. And I know maybe sometimes you haven't gotten the backing that you've wanted, and you're going to get so much backing. Maybe you'll say, don't give us so much backing.

He ended his speech with this note: “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.”

Somehow, in the mind of Jim Sciutto, and other Democratic operatives who play journalists on TV, this was somehow a “missed opportunity” to express gratitude. Did Sciutto fail to watch these remarks? Actually, no. He was on CNN at the time of the remarks, and came out and slammed them soon afterward for going off on tangents about media dishonesty and other political remarks, which were well received by the crowd, so Sciutto "imagined" that his pals "inside the community" hated it:

SCIUTTO: [Trump said] The truth is all you needed to hear is I'm here because of the great sacrifice you made. I'm standing here because of the representation of the sacrifice. I'm behind you and I appreciate the work. There were about a thousand other things in there.

And I'll just speak from this point. As a journalist who's covered the intelligence community for a long time, I'm just amazed at that kind of commentary from the president in that spot at this time. But let me just tell you, it's not my place. Let me tell you what folks inside the community, I imagine -- because there were 200 folks there from the CIA who volunteered to come today. Weren't required to. It's a day off. But volunteered.

What did they want to hear but, certainly, support, that they're not seen as a political body as the president in his own public comments, accused them of being, heard comments and wasn't what they were, I imagine, expecting or hoping to hear from him?

GLORIA BORGER: It was a campaign rally, and that's not what you expect at the CIA.