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Sen. Tom Cotton on Saturday defended President Trump against criticism that the campaign-style speech he delivered at CIA headquarters was inappropriate.

The Arkansas Republican, who serves on the Senate Intelligence Committee, dismissed critics who questioned whether the CIA, and an audience of agency professionals, was a proper setting for Trump to boast about his campaign victory, crowd sizes and the sales of magazines with his image on the cover, are missing the bond the president has developed with national security professionals.

The CIA employees who gathered for Trump’s remarks, and American intelligence professionals in general, appreciate the approach the new president has taken to nation security issues and aren’t put off by his unconventional style, said Cotton. Though not all were impressed, including former Obama CIA Director John Brennan.

“President Trump’s affection for troops, cops, and firefighters is genuine and well-known,” Cotton said Saturday evening, in an email exchange with the Washington Examiner. “Intelligence officers are cut from the same cloth, so President Trump’s affection for them isn’t surprising, whatever his differences with Obama-era political appointees. Today, President Trump told the men and women of the CIA exactly what they needed to hear: he loves them, he respects them, and he will back them all the way.”

Trump traveled to Langley, Va., on Saturday, his first full day as president, to address CIA employees, in a bid to shore up his relationship with the spy agency after weeks of criticizing the U.S. intelligence community for producing politically motivated, faulty intelligence — particularly as it relates to Russian espionage and Vladimir Putin possibly meddling in the 2016 election to help Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Trump, speaking in front of the CIA’s monument to officers that fell in the line of duty, promised the spy agency more backing from the White House than it had under former President Obama, and more freedom to do what is necessary to protect U.S. national security. But as is typical with Trump, his off-the-cuff speech meandered.

The president discussed the 2016 campaign, his inauguration ceremony and the “dishonest” media. It was vintage Trump.

“There is nobody that feels stronger about the intelligence community and the CIA than Donald Trump. There’s nobody; nobody,” Trump said. “I am with you 1,000 percent, and the reason you’re my first stop is that — as you know I have a running war with the media, they are among the most dishonest human beings on earth. And, they sort of made it sound like I had a feud with the intelligence community.”

“The military gave us unbelievable percentages of votes. We were incredibly successful in the election, with getting the vote of the military. And probably everybody in this room voted for me,” Trump continued, adding, about his inauguration ceremony.

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Brennan has been critical of Trump in the past.

01/21/17 7:24 PM

“I get up this morning, I turn on one of the networks, and they show an empty field. I say, wait a minute, I made a speech, I looked out, the field was, it looked like a million, a million and a half people, they showed a field where there were practically nobody standing there. And they said Donald Trump did not draw well.”

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“This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period.”

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