The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion President Trump at the CIA was appalling

President Trump delivers remarks during a visit to the CIA in Langley, Va., on Saturday. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

As a State Department special agent assigned to the U.S. Embassy in West Germany during the Cold War, as one of three regional security officers responsible for personnel and physical security of U.S. diplomatic missions in West Germany, and West Berlin, I had the privilege of working closely with American intelligence services on critical and extremely sensitive issues.

I also had the benefit of relying on intelligence resources during my work domestically in Washington. The Central Intelligence Agency was then, and I believe is now, absolutely essential to U.S. national security and foreign policy.

Follow Colbert I. King's opinionsFollow

That’s what drew me to watch President Donald Trump’s visit to CIA headquarters on Saturday. His history of lambasting and denigrating the intelligence community while president-elect — going so far as to accuse intelligence officials of being behind a Nazi-like smear campaign against him — argued for him making an early goodwill visit with the men and women who courageously do jobs that few could ever imagine having, let alone performing.

President Trump at the CIA was appalling.

The sacrifices he talked about were his own: mistreatment by the “dishonest” media; self-glorification (“Trust me, I’m like a smart person”); the size of his inaugural crowd (“It looked like a million, a million and a half people” on the Mall) (which isn’t true); his narcissistic boasting of being on the cover of Time magazine.

Unfocused, except on himself. Untruthful, except perhaps acknowledging where he was. And completely at sea as to why on earth he was there. Except to fish for compliments, and the kind of admiration he craves like an attention-starved child. And maybe to draw attention away from the massive Women’s March on Washington crowd dominating our nation’s capital.

For hubris, Trump keeps trumping himself.