White House revokes CNN star Jim Acosta's press access after heated argument with President Trump
CNN's chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta held on to a microphone that a White House intern was trying to take from his hand resulting in a brief physical contact
Just hours after CNN's chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta engaged in a contentious back-and-forth with President Donald Trump on Wednesday, the White House suspended his press pass access "until further notice."
Acosta tweeted Wednesday night: "I've just been denied entrance to the WH. Secret Service just informed me I cannot enter the WH grounds for my 8 pm 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
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, confirmed the news in a statement saying the suspension of Acosta's press credentials was based on his "placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern", calling his behavior "absolutely unacceptable", Fox News reports.
We stand by our decision to revoke this individual’s hard pass. We will not tolerate the inappropriate behavior clearly documented in this video. pic.twitter.com/T8X1Ng912y— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) November 8, 2018
CNN, however, said the suspension "was done in retaliation for his challenging questions at today's press conference" and claimed Sanders "lied" in her explanation of what unraveled, Fox reported.
During a news conference at the White House earlier on Wednesday, the CNN reporter got into a heated argument with President Trump about the migrant caravan from South America. In response, the commander-in-chief told Acosta to do his job and let him do his. “Honestly, I think you should let me run the country and you run CNN,” the president said.
Ignoring Trump's request to hand over the mic, the reporter went on to ask him another question before a female White House aide walked over to him. The president then told him, “That’s enough!” As the intern was seen in the footage trying to take the microphone from Acosta's hand, he continued to try to talk without yielding the device, resulting in a brief physical contact between the two.
However, in a statement, Sanders said that "President Trump believes in a free press and expects and welcomes tough questions of him and his Administration."
"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 being supportive of a free press in the midst of him taking 68 questions from 35 different reporters over the course of an hour and a half — including several from the reporter in question," she said. "The fact that CNN is proud of the way their employee behaved is not only disgusting, it is an example of their outrageous disregard for everyone, including young women, who work in this Administration," she added.
Acosta's suspension "was done in retaliation for his challenging questions at today's press conference", CNN said Wednesday night, claiming that Sanders "lied" in her explanation of what really happened. "She provided fraudulent accusations and cited an incident that never happened," CNN said. "This unprecedented decision is a threat to our democracy and the country deserves better. Jim Acosta has our full support." Having said that, the White House Correspondent's Association urged the White House to "immediately reverse this weak and misguided action" and called the move "unacceptable."
On Wednesday, Trump called the reporter "a rude, terrible person" who "shouldn't be working for CNN."
"I tell you what, CNN should be ashamed of itself having you work for them," Trump told Acosta. “The way you treat Sarah Huckabee [Sanders] is horrible. And the way you treat other people is horrible. You shouldn’t treat people that way."
While CNN unsurprisingly called the president's attacks on the media "un-American" on Twitter, fellow White House reporters from mainstream outlets rooted for Acosta. The microphone was eventually handed to Peter Alexander of NBC news, who came out in support of Acosta and called him a "diligent reporter who busts his butt". But President Trump retorted: "Well, I'm not a big fan of yours either, to be honest."
The White House Correspondents' Association in a statement called the move "unacceptable," and urged the White House to "immediately reverse this weak and misguided action."
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
After the CNN star's "hard pass" was suspended, he posted a video to Twitter showing a Secret Service agent removing his media credentials from a lanyard, disabling him from accessing the White House until the decision is reversed.
"It's been here for a while, huh?" the agent asks, appearing to have some trouble removing the pass. "Well, yeah, I've been working at the White House for five years, covering two administrations, so yeah, it's been in that thing for a while," Acosta says.