CNN reporter Jim Acosta on Wednesday denied the White House’s claim that he became physical with a young female White House intern during a heated exchange earlier that day with President TrumpDonald John TrumpMidterms: The winners and losers GOP Rep. Mike Bost wins reelection in Illinois Sisolak becomes first Dem to win Nevada governor race since 1994 MORE.
Acosta said on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360” that he was “trying to hang onto the microphone” when he was approached by the intern, who tried to take his microphone away as he attempted to ask a question of Trump during a White House press briefing.
“I didn’t put my hands on her or touch her as they’re alleging. It’s unfortunate the White House is saying this,” Acosta said on CNN. “… I think I handled myself professionally.”
Acosta’s comments came shortly after the White House announced that it had suspended his press credentials. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders claimed in a tweet that Acosta placed his hands on the intern and called it “absolutely unacceptable.”
“President Trump believes in a free press and expects and welcomes tough questions of him and his administration,” Sanders said. “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.”
Acosta later tweeted, “This is a lie,” in response to Sanders’s statement.
Video shows the White House intern attempting to take the microphone from Acosta while he was asking Trump a question about a Central American migrant caravan heading north to the U.S.
As the intern tried to grab the mic, Acosta said, “pardon me, ma’am” and continued to try to ask his question. Acosta’s hand appeared to brush the intern’s arm during the exchange.
During the exchange, the president called Acosta “a rude, terrible person” and said “CNN should be ashamed of itself having you working for them.”
— NBC News (@NBCNews) November 7, 2018
CNN later came to Acosta’s defense, saying in a statement that Sanders “lied” in her “fraudulent” explanation by citing an incident “that never happened.”
“She provided fraudulent accusations and cited an incident that never happened. This unprecedented decision is a threat to our democracy and the country deserves better. Jim Acosta has our full support,” CNN wrote in a statement along with video of the interaction.
Here is a video of the interaction for the world to see: pic.twitter.com/us8u5TWzDz
— CNN Communications (@CNNPR) November 8, 2018
Sanders late Wednesday night doubled down on the White House’s decision to revoke Acosta’s press credentials.
“We stand by our decision to revoke this individual’s hard pass. We will not tolerate the inappropriate behavior clearly documented in this video,” she tweeted, after fielding mounting criticism for the decision.