Follow the White House press briefing

By Veronica Rocha, Meg Wagner and Brian Ries, CNN

Updated 7:48 p.m. ET, August 15, 2018
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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McCabe's clearance was revoked "according to what we were told was FBI policy," she tweeted.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.

3:01 p.m. ET, August 15, 2018

JUST IN: White House says Trump has revoked former CIA director's security clearance

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders just opened today's press briefing with a stunning announcement: President Trump has revoked ex-CIA Director John Brennan's security clearance.

Sanders, reading from a letter written by Trump, said:

As the head of the executive branch and commander-in-chief, I have a unique constitutional responsibility to protect the nation's classified information. Including by controlling access to it. Today in fulfilling that responsibility, I've decided to revoke the security clearance of John Brennan, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency.


2:36 p.m. ET, August 15, 2018

What happened at yesterday's press briefing

Sarah Sanders' Tuesday press briefing opened as she planned, with defense officials discussing the possible repatriated remains of unnamed US troops killed during the Korean War. But it quickly went sideways.

First, the White House press secretary was asked about President Trump’s language on Twitter calling Omarosa Manigault Newman a “crazed, crying lowlife” and a "dog." She sought to defend the President, claiming he was “voicing frustration." Sanders added it had "nothing to do with race and everything to do with the President calling out someone’s lack of integrity."

She was then pressed specifically on whether any recording of the President using the n-word exists. Sanders said: “I can’t guarantee anything," before adding Trump has already addressed the question.

During the briefing, as Sanders sought to defend the President's record on race, she then incorrectly claimed Trump has already tripled Obama's record over eight years for creating jobs for black workers. She later issued a rare correction and apologized.