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Trump and the CIA

Borrowing From Nixon's Playbook

U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks during a visit to the Central Intelligence Agency in Langley, Virginia, January 21, 2017. Carlos Barria / Reuters

Former U.S. President Richard Nixon did not mince his words when it came to the Central Intelligence Agency. He called it “disloyal,” “unproductive,” “over-staffed,” “not worth a damn,” and even asked, “What the hell do those clowns do out there in Langley?” The country’s combative new Commander-in-Chief Donald Trump has had similar words for the agency, branding U.S. intelligence officers as “disgraceful,” “politically motivated,” and “sick people” who spread fake news. Although commentators have been quick to point out key similarities between Trump and Nixon—for example, their ability to nurse a grudge, their obsession with conspiracies, their hatred of the press, their professed “outsider” status, and their willingness to fight for the ignored and forgotten “great silent majority”—few have yet probed the remarkable parallels in their relationship with America’s premier spy agency.

AT WAR WITH THE CIA

It is clear that Trump regards the

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