Follow the White House press briefing

By Veronica Rocha, Meg Wagner and Brian Ries, CNN

Updated 7:48 p.m. ET, August 15, 2018
11 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
3:25 p.m. ET, August 15, 2018

Michael Hayden: Trump's threat "will have no impact on what I think, say or write"

From CNN's Jenna McLaughlin

Former NSA and CIA Director Michael Hayden, a CNN national security analyst, responds to news President Trump is considering revoking his security clearance: 

If I were to lose my clearance, it would have a marginal impact on the work I do. For example I am on the proxy board of an American subsidiary of an Irish company to ensure that in doing its work it respects the classification rules of the United States. 
If my memory is correct, I visited the agency once to get a background briefing on Africa about nine years ago. All my other visits were either to attend a ceremony, at the request of the agency or to research my book (every word of which had to be cleared by CIA and NSA).
With regard to the implied threat today that I could lose my clearance, that will have no impact on what I think, say or write.
3:29 p.m. ET, August 15, 2018

What you need to know about ex-CIA chief John Brennan

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders just announced that former CIA director John Brennan’s security clearance has been revoked.

Here's what you need to know about him:

  • He had a long career with the CIA: Brennan was sworn in as CIA director in March 2013. He started his career with the agency in 1980, as a trainee with the CIA's Directorate of Operations. (He left the CIA in 2004 and worked for the National Counterterrorism Center, The Analysis Corporation and for President Barack Obama before being named CIA director.)
  • His time in office was not without controversy: In 2014, Sen. Dianne Feinstein claimed the CIA secretly monitored the computers of congressional staffers while they were conducting an internal review of the spy agency's detention program. Brennan later apologized to the Senate Intelligence Committee, and acknowledged that the CIA did, in fact, look at their computers.
  • He was critical of President-elect Trump: In January 2017, he told Fox News that he didn't think Trump had "a full appreciation of Russian capabilities." Those remarks came after Trump rejected intelligence agencies' reports of claims that Russia has compromising information on the President-elect.
  • He left office in January 2017: It happened as President Trump was taking office.
3:32 p.m. ET, August 15, 2018

James Clapper reacts to news Trump considering revoking former officials' security clearances

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper just called into CNN to react to the news that President Trump had revoked former CIA chief John Brennan's security clearance -- and he may lose his soon, too.

He said that while he hasn't had any access to current intelligence since leaving the government in January 2017, he has consulted with certain senior members of the current administration. He said he wouldn't name them "for their own protection."

But as for the implications of Trump's act, Clapper said it was more of a First Amendment issue than anything else:

"So will the republic stand or fall on whether John [Brennan] retains his access to classified information, or mine or any others that were named? Of course not. The larger issue here, to me, throughout has been an infringement of First Amendment rights. And I think people ought to think seriously about that."

2:57 p.m. ET, August 15, 2018

Top intel official Dan Coats was not consulted on revoking Brennan's clearance, official says

From CNN's Jim Sciutto

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats was not consulted on revoking the clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan, an official with knowledge said.

Moments ago: White House press secretary Sarah Sanders defended the decision to revoke Brennan's security clearance as one aimed at fulfilling the President's "constitutional responsibility to protect classified information."

She added: "The President has a constitutional responsibility to protect classified information and who has access to it and that's what he's doing is fulfilling this responsibility."

5:14 p.m. ET, August 15, 2018

Andrew McCabe's lawyer: "This has zero to do with national security"

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders just read off a list of former officials President Trump is considering revoking security clearances for.

On that list was Andrew McCabe, the former deputy director of the FBI.

McCabe's lawyer just responded on Twitter.

"This has zero to do with national security. This is an Official Enemies List," he tweeted.

Here's the full tweet:

What McCabe's spokesperson said about his security clearance

On July 23, Melissa Schwartz, a strategic and crisis communications consultant, said McCabe's security clearance was already deactivated when he was terminated.

McCabe's clearance was revoked "according to what we were told was FBI policy," she tweeted.

2:55 p.m. ET, August 15, 2018

White House insists tariffs impacting Turkey are unrelated to jailed pastor

From CNN's Jeremy Diamond

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders insisted Wednesday that the increase in steel and aluminum tariffs impacting Turkey are not linked to the continued imprisonment of Pastor Andrew Brunson.

But when pressed to explain what has changed to impact the national security rationale for the tariffs in the last month, Sanders had nothing new to offer.

"The President's been clear about the steel and aluminum industries. Those are industries that must be protected," Sanders said.

She offered no new information to justify an increase in the tariffs with regard to Turkey.

But that's not what Vice President Mike Pence has said: Speaking to Fox News on July 29th, Pence said, "The United States of America is prepared to bring sanctions against Turkey until Pastor Andrew Brunson is free."

2:51 p.m. ET, August 15, 2018

Sarah Sanders says she "not aware" of any recent conversations between Trump and Manafort

From CNN's Betsy Klein

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders was just asked whether President Trump has recently spoken with his former campaign manager Paul Manafort.

She said she was “not aware of any recent conversations that they’ve had.”

Pressed on whether the President believes he is still being treated unfairly, as he said in June, Sanders said that Trump has “made that clear in his previous comments.”

Why this matters: Manafort is charged with 18 counts of tax and banking crimes, and has pleaded not guilty to all charges. His criminal case is currently on trial in Virginia.

3:00 p.m. ET, August 15, 2018

President Trump is considering revoking these former officials' security clearances, too

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, who just announced that President Trump is revoking the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan, said the President is also looking at the possibility of revoking more former officials' security clearances.

These are the people he's looking into:

  • James Clapper, former director of National Intelligence
  • James Comey, former FBI director (who was fired by Trump)
  • Michael Hayden, former director of the National Security Agency
  • Sally Yates, former US deputy attorney general
  • Susan Rice, former United States national security advisor
  • Andrew McCabe, former deputy director of the FBI
  • Peter Strzok, former FBI agent
  • Lisa Page, former lawyer for the FBI
  • Bruce Ohr, former associate deputy attorney general 

Asked by a reporter if today's announcement was simply the President getting back at his critics and penalizing them for being critical on television, Sanders said, "Not at all."

"The President has a constitutional responsibility to protect classified information, and who has access to it. And that's what he is doing, is fulfilling that responsibility and this action. This is actually specific to Mr. Brennan, and the others are currently under review," she said.


2:46 p.m. ET, August 15, 2018

How Trump justified revoking ex-CIA Director John Brennan's security clearance

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, quoting a statement by President Trump, outlined the reasons why President Trump felt he needed to revoke ex-CIA Director John Brennan's security clearance.

"First, at this point in my administration, any benefits that senior officials might glean from consultations with Mr. Brennan are now outweighed by the risks posed by his erratic conduct and behavior," Trump claimed.

"Second, that conduct and behavior has tested and far exceeded the limits of any professional courtesy that may have been due to him. Mr. Brennan has a history that calls into question his objectivity and credibility."

One specific example Trump cited in his announcement, according to Sarah Sanders, was the CIA's infiltration of Senate computers during Brennan's time at the helm of the CIA.

Brennan has “recently leveraged his status” as a former official to “make a series of unfounded allegations” about the administrations, which she called “increasingly frenzied commentary.”

She continued, “Such access is particularly inappropriate when such officials have transitioned into highly political positions.