The White House suspended the press credentials of CNN reporter Jim Acosta on Wednesday, hours after President Donald Trump took issue with questions Acosta asked at a news conference.
Press secretary Sarah Sanders cited Acosta’s brief physical confrontation with a White House press aide during Trump’s midday news conference as the reason for suspending his press pass “until further notice.”
During the 90-minute session at the White House, Trump snapped at Acosta after the reporter asked whether the president had “demonized immigrants” by calling a caravan of Central American migrants “an invasion.” After a lengthy and tense back-and-forth, a female White House intern tried to take the microphone from Acosta.
Acosta held onto it and raised an arm to shield it, in the process making contact with the aide. “Pardon me, ma’am,” he told the woman.
After their exchange, Trump told Acosta: “CNN should be ashamed of itself having you working for them. You are a rude, terrible person. You shouldn’t be working for CNN. 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.”
On Wednesday night, Sanders accused Acosta of “placing his hands on a young woman” and said it was on those grounds that Acosta’s press pass was being suspended.
“President Trump believes in a free press and expects and welcomes tough questions of him and his Administration,” Sanders said in a statement. “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.”
Video of the exchange showed otherwise. On Twitter, Acosta responded to the press secretary’s statement with, simply: “This is a lie.”
Appearing on CNN, Acosta told host Anderson Cooper on Wednesday evening that he was “just trying to ask a question of the president.”
He added: “I didn’t put my hands on her or touch her, as the White House is alleging. I do think, Anderson, that this is a test for all of us. I think they’re trying to shut us down. I think they’re trying to send a message to my colleagues.”
(c) 2018, The Washington Post · Amy B Wang, Paul Farhi