The White House accused CNN reporter Jim Acosta of “placing his hands on a young woman” after he refused to turn over the microphone during a testy press conference with President Trump Wednesday.
“I’ve just been denied entrance to the WH,” Acosta tweeted Wednesday evening. “Secret Service just informed me I cannot enter the WH grounds for my 8pm hit.”
I’ve just been denied entrance to the WH. Secret Service just informed me I cannot enter the WH grounds for my 8pm hit
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) November 8, 2018
The US Secret Service just asked for my credential to enter the WH. As I told the officer, I don’t blame him. I know he’s just doing his job. (Sorry this video is not rightside up) pic.twitter.com/juQeuj3B9R
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) November 8, 2018
Hours earlier, he sparred with the President over the migrant caravan — which Trump called an “invasion” — and the Russia investigation.
“CNN should be ashamed of itself having you working for them. You are a rude, terrible person. You shouldn’t be working for CNN,” Trump told Acosta from behind his lectern. “You’re a very rude person. The way you treat Sarah Huckabee is horrible. And the way you treat other people are horrible. You shouldn’t treat people that way.”
At one point, a White House aide attempted to take the microphone from Acosta, but failed; he seemed to hit her hand while yanking his back, then apologized to her.
“Pardon me, ma’am,” he said.
BREAKING: White House aide grabs and tries to physically remove a microphone from CNN Correspondent Jim Acosta during a contentious exchange with President Trump at a news conference. pic.twitter.com/Ml1OvlXpa9
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) November 7, 2018
Reuters correspondent Jeff Mason tweeted later that he was seated next to Acosta and “did not witness him ‘placing his hands’ on the young intern.”
“He held on to the microphone as she reached for it,” Mason wrote.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced around 8 p.m. that she was suspending Acosta’s hard pass, which allows him to enter the White House without supervision.
“President Trump believes in a free press and expects and welcomes tough questions of him and his Administration. We will, however, never tolerate a reporter placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern. This conduct is absolutely unacceptable. It is also completely disrespectful to the reporter’s colleagues not to allow them an opportunity to ask a question. President Trump has given the press more access than any President in history,” she said in a statement.
“Contrary to CNN’s assertions there is no greater demonstration of the President’s support for a free press than the event he held today. Only they would attack the President for not supporting a free press in the midst of him taking 68 questions from 35 different reporters over the course of 1.5 hours including several from the reporter in question. The fact that CNN is proud of the way their employee behaved is not only disgusting, it’s an example of their outrageous disregard for everyone, including young women, who work in this Administration.”
Acosta called Sanders’ comments “a lie.”
CNN backed its reporter both after the press conference and against after Acosta’s pass was revoked.
“It was done in retaliation for his challenging questions at today’s press conference,” the network said in a statement. “In an explanation, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders lied. She provided fraudulent accusations and cited and incident that never happened. This unprecedented decision is a threat to our democracy and the country deserves better. Jim Acosta has our full support.”
The White House Correspondents’ Association also said it “strongly objects to the Trump Administration’s decision to use US Secret Service security credentials as a tool to punish a reporter with whom it has a difficult relationship.”
“Revoking access to the White House complex is a reaction out of line to the purported offense and is unacceptable,” the organization said in a statement.
“Journalists may use a range of approaches to carry out their jobs and the WHCA does not police the tone or frequency of the questions its members ask of powerful senior government officials, including the President. Such interactions, however uncomfortable they may appear to be, help define the strength of our national institutions.”
Trump and his administration has had an antagonistic relationship with the press since he launched his campaign with frequent allegations of “fake news” from the President.
In March 2016, Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, was seen on video grabbing a Breitbart reporter by the arm and almost pulling her to the ground. Lewandowski was charged with simple battery but Palm Beach prosecutors later said there wasn’t enough evidence to convict him.
Last month, the President also praised Montana Rep. Greg Gianforte, who pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault for body slamming Guardian reporter Ren Jacobs.
“Never wrestle him, you understand that?” Trump said at a rally in Missoula, Mont., in October. “Any guy who can do a body slam is my kind of guy.”
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