Donald Trump toured the CIA on his first full day as president on Saturday, pledging to the intelligence community afterward that "I am so behind you."
The visit to the agency's Langley, Virginia, headquarters seemed designed to smooth over growing tensions between the new commander in chief and the nation's spy agencies.
The rift widened notably when Trump, while still president-elect, questioned intelligence reports that said Russia tried to influence the November election in his favor, and then openly antagonized the intelligence community on Twitter.
Earlier this month, however, he publicly accepted the U.S. intelligence agencies' findings that Russia was involved in cyberespionage.
Trump blamed the media Saturday for claiming that he was sparring with intelligence officials.
"They made it seem like I had a feud with the intelligence community, and the reason you're the No. 1 stop is exactly the opposite," Trump told CIA officers and staff in attendance.
He noted earlier, however, that the agency didn't seem to be getting the support that it should have.
"I am so behind you, and I know that maybe you haven’t gotten the backing that you’ve wanted," Trump said. "You’re going to get so much backing ... You’ll say, 'Please, Mr. President, please don’t give us so much backing.'"
Vice President Mike Pence and national security adviser retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn joined Trump at the CIA, along with Trump's choice for CIA director, Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan.
Pompeo's nomination remains locked up in the Senate confirmation process as Democrats say they need more time to debate before a confirmation vote can be held.
Trump earlier in the day attended a prayer breakfast at the Washington National Cathedral — as is tradition on the day after the inauguration — just as tens of thousands of demonstrators flooded D.C to support gender equality and other issues at the Women's March on Washington.
During his CIA visit, Trump visit took a dig at news reports that showed attendance for his inauguration on Friday was far smaller than the 1.8 million people who attended Barack Obama's inauguration in 2009.
"We had it looked like a million and a half people," Trump said. "Whatever it was, it was — but it looked like it went all the way back to the National Monument."
An exact number is unclear because the National Park Service, which oversees the National Mall, no longer estimates crowd sizes.
Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, attacked Trump's public remarks during his CIA visit for giving "little more than a perfunctory acknowledgment" of staffers who have lost their lives on the job.
"Instead he argued at length about the size of the crowd at his inauguration, set out his favorites in the media, meandered through a variety of other topics unrelated to intelligence, and made the astounding claim so belied by the evidence — 'I love honesty," Schiff said in a statement.
Former CIA Director John Brennan through a spokesperson issued a sharper rebuke. He called the speech, given in front of a memorial wall honoring agency employees who died in the line of service, "a despicable display of self-aggrandizement."
"Former CIA Director Brennan is deeply saddened and angered at Donald Trump's despicable display of self-aggrandizement in front of CIA's Memorial Wall of Agency heroes. Brennan says that Trump should be ashamed of himself," Nick Shapiro, former deputy chief of staff under Brennan, said.