Speaking at the CIA's headquarters in Langley, Virginia, Trump said he appreciates the agency's work, and that he supports its employees as he stood before a wall commemorating slain CIA personnel.
"There's nobody I respect more," he said during remarks that at times devolved into petty and childish comments that concluded with him telling an audience member "thank you, beautiful".
His speech was attended by more than 400 CIA employees.
Trump's appearance at the spy agency comes amid strained relations with the intelligence community.
He squarely placed blame for the tensions on the media for being “among the most dishonest human beings on Earth”.
The media "sort of made it sound like I had a feud with the intelligence community”, he said.
Trump has repeatedly used a variety of platforms to deride the intelligence community before and after it was publicly determined that Russia was behind a campaign geared toward influencing the presidential election in November.
In a tweet from Jan. 3, Trump said: "The "Intelligence" briefing on so-called "Russian hacking" was delayed until Friday, perhaps more time needed to build a case," placing quotes around the word "intelligence".
That is one comment of many in which the president has taken issue with the community.
After a dossier alleging Russia has compromising information on Trump was made public, Trump wrote on the social media site Jan. 15: "Those Intelligence chiefs made a mistake here, & when people make mistakes, they should APOLOGIZE."
He further likened the community to Nazi Germany on Jan. 11.
But the disparities with the truth and Trump's comments did not stop at the media.
Trump maintained during his Langley address that the crowd that saw him inaugurated Friday "went all the way back to the Washington monument".
Photos of the event clearly show the masses extended nowhere near the landmark.