White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders accused Acosta of “absolutely unacceptable” conduct.
The White House is suspending CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta’s “hard pass” for what press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders deemed “absolutely unacceptable” conduct in a statement Wednesday night.
“I’ve just been denied entrance to the WH,” Acosta wrote on Twitter. “Secret Service just informed me I cannot enter the WH grounds for my 8pm hit.” (He posted a video of a Secret Service agent asking for his pass.)
Sanders announced the punishment in a lengthy statement Wednesday night, several hours after Acosta clashed with President Donald Trump during a feisty press conference.
The White House said it is punishing Acosta for his interaction with a White House press aide who forcibly attempted to remove the microphone from the reporter’s hands as he tried to ask the president a second question.
“President Trump believes in a free press and expects and welcomes tough questions of him and his administration,” Sanders said in the 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.”
Continued Sanders: “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. 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. As a result of today’s incident, the White House is suspending the hard pass of the reporter involved until further notice.”
This is not the first time the White House has attempted to punish a CNN reporter for what the Trump administration calls bad behavior. In July, White House reporter Kaitlin Collins was banned from an open press event after she loudly asked questions of the president during a pool spray.
CNN will surely respond to the White House’s decision, released late Wednesday. Acosta shared Sanders’ statement on Twitter and wrote, “This is a lie.”
One of Acosta’s colleagues, a CNN White House producer, defended his conduct. “This is a complete lie,” Allie Malloy wrote on Twitter. “The woman grabbed Jim’s arm repeatedly. He never once touched her. In fact at one point @Acosta tells her politely ‘pardon me, mam’ as she’s yanking on his arm.”