Follow the White House press briefing

By Veronica Rocha, Meg Wagner and Brian Ries, CNN
7:48 p.m. ET, August 15, 2018
7:48 p.m. ET, August 15, 2018

Our live coverage has ended. Scroll through the posts below to read about today's White House press briefing.

6:22 p.m. ET, August 15, 2018

GOP Sen. Susan Collins: I don’t see grounds for revoking Brennan's security clearance

Republican Sen. Susan Collins described President Trump's move to strip former CIA Director John Brennan's security clearance as "unwise."

"I think it’s unwise because generally recently retired national security officials have a lot to contribute," she said.

Collins said Brennan has been “far too political in his statements.” But she added "unless there was a disclosure of classified information of which I’m unaware, I don’t see the grounds for revoking his security clearance.”

5:55 p.m. ET, August 15, 2018

Joe Biden: Brennan decision is "an act unbecoming of a president"

Former Vice President Joe Biden called President Trump's decision to revoke former CIA Director John Brennan's security clearance "an act unbecoming of a president."

"If you think it will silence John, then you just don't know the man," Biden tweeted.

Read his tweet:

What happened: Earlier today, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders read a statement from the President regarding his decision to revoke Brennan's security clearance. In the statement, Trump accused Brennan of lying and said the former CIA director's "recent conduct characterized by increasingly frenzied commentary is wholly inconsistent with access to the nation's most closely held secrets."

The White House provided no evidence that Brennan has misused his security clearance since leaving government.

While Brennan has been a vocal critic of the President since Trump took office -- calling him unfit to serve -- he is well-regarded by both Republicans and Democrats as a seasoned national security expert.

5:02 p.m. ET, August 15, 2018

Dem senator says Trump's move "smacks of Nixonian types of practices"

From CNN's Manu Raju

 

Sen. Mark Warner, ranking member in the Senate Intelligence Committee, said revoking former CIA Director John Brennan’s clearance is an effort to “distract” the American public and called it an “eerie memory of an enemy’s list."

He said Trump's action “smacks of Nixonian types of practices.”

When asked what he will do to push back, Warner said he would begin talks with senators from both parties, calling it “unchartered territory” and they would try to stop this from being a “normal practice."

Warner said he wouldn't be surprised if the White House tries to strip special counsel Robert Mueller's team of its security clearances.

“There is nothing this White House would do that would surprise me at this point," he said. "Because this White House is clearly under siege and will stop at nothing to try to divert people."
4:48 p.m. ET, August 15, 2018

John Brennan: Trump's actions are "part of a broader effort" to suppress freedom of speech and punish critics

Former CIA Director John Brennan just responded on Twitter to the announcement that President Trump had stripped him of his security clearance, saying the President is trying to suppress freedom of speech and punish critics.

"It should gravely worry all Americans, including intelligence professionals, about the cost of speaking out," he tweeted.

Read his full tweet:

4:38 p.m. ET, August 15, 2018

These 4 possible Trump targets won't comment

Sally Yates

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders today named nine former US officials, whose security clearances were being scrutinized by President Trump.

She said Trump was looking at stripping their security clearances, and announced that the President had also revoked former CIA Director John Brennan's clearances.

Four of those officials — Susan Rice, former United States national security advisor; Sally Yates, former US deputy attorney general; Lisa Page, former lawyer for the FBI; and Bruce Ohr, former associate deputy attorney general — declined to comment on Sanders' announcement.

Sanders also named:

  • James Clapper, former director of National Intelligence
  • James Comey, former FBI director
  • Michael Hayden, former director of the National Security Agency
  • Andrew McCabe, former deputy director of the FBI
  • Peter Strzok, former FBI agent
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."