Vice President Mike Pence visited CIA headquarters outside Washington, D.C. on Wednesday afternoon to thank the spy agency for its work.
“The president sent me to the CIA to listen and to learn about the critical work being done in these halls, and by all your colleagues serving abroad,” Pence said according to prepared remarks provided to the Washington Examiner. “But I’m also here to pay a debt of gratitude, and to say those two words that the CIA simply doesn’t hear enough: Thank you.”
“Thank you for the pivotal role each and every one of you plays in keeping our nation safe,” Pence added. “You, and the thousands of men and women you direct and work with on a daily basis, are essential to America’s security.”
Pence also received a classified briefing and paid tribute to Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, a fellow Indiana Republican who formerly represented the state in the U.S. Senate, and CIA Director Mike Pompeo, with whom the vice president served in Congress.
“The president and I have the utmost confidence in all of you… because you are America’s elite, and your best is unbeatable by anyone, at any time,” Pence said.
President Trump got off to a difficult start with the CIA, questioning intelligence agencies’ assessments of topics ranging from weapons of mass destruction during the Iraq war to Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Trump was criticized after his own visit to Langley early in his administration. Some of his hardcore supporters argue the president is being thwarted by the “deep state.”
But Pence praised the CIA and frequently quoted the president while doing so. “This president has your back — I promise you that,” Pence said. “And together, I know that we will renew American leadership in our time, and leave our beloved country stronger and safer than ever before.”
Pence praised CIA agents as the heirs to “patriots such as Nathan Hale” and lauded their contributions to U.S. victory in the Cold War.
“In recent years, you’ve defended our people and our principles in the face of radical Islamic terrorism, on the front lines of South Asia and the Middle East, serving shoulder-to-shoulder with our warfighters and our partners,” the vice president declared. “And even now, while continuing this fight, you are evolving and expanding your capabilities to ensure American dominance on the battlefields of the future.”
Calling his CIA audience “an invaluable asset to America,” Pence expressed confidence in the role they would play in confronting Iran, North Korea, Russia, and China.
Pence has emerged as an important figure in the Trump administration’s national security team. The president is about to embark on a five-day, 12-country tour of Asia where a number of international challenges the U.S. faces will be on the agenda.