From Monday's White House briefing with White House press secretary Sean Spicer:
KRISTEN WELKER, NBC NEWS: Sean, thank you.
Former President Obama warned then-President-elect Trump against hiring Mike Flynn as his national security adviser. Why did he ignore that warning?
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE: Well, I -- I -- the president doesn't disclose details of meetings that he has, which, in this case, was an hour-long meeting.
But it's true that the president made it -- President Obama made it known that he wasn't exactly a fan of General Flynn's, which is -- frankly, shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone, that -- given that General Flynn had worked for President Obama, was an outspoken critic of President Obama's shortcomings, specifically as it related to his lack of strategy confronting ISIS and other threats around -- that -- that were facing America.
So, the -- the question that you have to ask yourself really is, if President Obama was truly concerned about General Flynn, why didn't he suspend General Flynn's security clearance, which they had just reapproved months earlier. Additionally, why did the Obama administration let Flynn go to Russia for a paid speaking engagement and receive a fee?
There were steps that they could've taken that -- if that -- that was truly a concern more than just a person that -- that didn't -- had bad blood.
REPORTER: And I want to follow up on a couple points because you raised the security clearance.
But before that, if -- if a sitting president raises the name of one individual, why wouldn't that give the president-elect pause?
I understand what you're saying the caveat of the fact that he campaigned against Hillary Clinton, et cetera. But wouldn't that give the incoming president pause?
SPICER: Well, I -- I think -- I -- I don't know that I agree with your characterization. You made it clear that he wasn't a fan of his, and I don't think that should've come as a surprise, considering the role that General Flynn paid -- played in the campaign, criticizing his...
REPORTER: So, it didn't give him any pause at all?
SPICER: No, I -- I think -- again, I think you -- you -- if you know what we knew at the time, which is that the security clearance that he had, had been reapproved in April of that year, and they took -- not only did they reapprove it, but then they took no steps to suspend it.
So, the question has to be what did they do if they had real concerns beyond just not having -- you know, not liking him for some of the comments that he made.
REPORTER: And it -- it's our understanding -- and if you could clarify this -- did Mike Flynn not need upgraded security clearance in order to serve as the national security adviser?
SPICER: No, he'd been head of the Defense Intelligence Agency. That's the same...
REPORTER: (inaudible) vetted him as well?
SPICER: But that's the same clearance that -- the -- the security clearance -- we went over this a while ago -- it's the same clearance at any level. Once you get it, you get it.
From the time he had -- he had had his reinvestigation in April of 2016, and the Obama administration took no steps -- not only did they reaffirm that security clearance, they took no steps to suspend it or take any other action.
REPORTER: But did you not vet him yourself?
SPICER: Well, you don't vet -- on a security clearance, that's -- that's what -- that's why you get a security clearance. Everyone in the government goes through the same process. So, the answer is is that those same -- that same process worked for General Flynn as it did for me or anyone else who works here. There's no difference of -- of a security clearance once it's issued.
Monday evening, Trump reacted to the hearing on Twitter:
Director Clapper reiterated what everybody, including the fake media already knows- there is "no evidence" of collusion w/ Russia and Trump.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 8, 2017
Sally Yates made the fake media extremely unhappy today --- she said nothing but old news!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 8, 2017