FILE - In this May 9, 2018, file photo, Gina Haspel arrives to her confirmation hearing at the Senate Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington. Haspel’s 33-year spy career began as the Cold War was thawing, but she was in the shadows countering Russian intelligence agencies that never stopped trying to penetrate the U.S. government. It's experience she can tap as she leads the agency amid rising tensions with Moscow. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

The Latest: Trump praises CIA's Haspel at her swearing-in

May 21, 2018 - 11:18 am
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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump and the CIA (all times local):

10:55 a.m.

President Donald Trump is praising new CIA Director Gina Haspel at her swearing-in ceremony Monday.

Trump spoke at CIA headquarters in Virginia, saying there was "no one in this country better qualified" for the job. Calling Haspel strong, Trump said the new director would "never back down" in defending America.

Striking a different tone from his previous visit to the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters, Trump also hailed the agency staffers, calling them the "most elite intelligence professionals on the planet."

Trump said: "the exceptional men and women of this agency deserve exceptional leadership."

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10:46 a.m.

President Donald Trump is at CIA headquarters for the swearing-in of the agency's next director.

Trump traveled to agency headquarters in Langley, Virginia Monday. Gina Haspel won Senate confirmation last week after overcoming concerns about her role in the agency's use of harsh interrogation techniques after 9/11.

Trump tapped the 61-year-old Kentucky native to lead the nation's premier intelligence agency after he nominated then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo to succeed Rex Tillerson as secretary of state.

Trump previously visited the CIA headquarters in 2017 on his first full day in office. That visit was seen as an attempt at a fresh start after harshly criticizing the agency during his campaign. But he spent much of his remarks at the time focused on settling scores with the media.

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9:31 a.m.,

Hours before President Donald Trump is visiting CIA headquarters, he is promoting criticism of former CIA Director John Brennan. Trump is suggesting Brennan is to blame for the Russia probe.

On Twitter Monday, Trump referenced comments from conservative commentator Dan Bogino on "Fox and Friends," which argued that Brennan "started this entire debacle." Bagino, a former Secret Service agent, also said Brennan had "disgraced the intelligence community."

Trump is set to visit the Central Intelligence Agency Monday morning for the swearing-in of Gina Haspel. The Senate confirmed Haspel last week after overcoming concerns about her role in the agency's use of harsh interrogation techniques after 9/11.

Brennan became the agency's director in 2013 under President Barack Obama and served until January 2017. He has been a vocal critic of Trump.

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