White House suspends credentials for CNN’s Jim Acosta

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White House suspends credentials for CNN's Jim Acosta

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Media captionTrump: "That's enough, put down the mic"

The White House has suspended the credentials of CNN's chief White House correspondent hours after a testy exchange with President Donald Trump.

Jim Acosta was asking a question at a news conference on Wednesday when a White House worker tried to grab the microphone from his hands.

Press secretary Sarah Huckerbee Sanders said access was removed because he had put "his hands on a young woman".

Mr Acosta called Ms Sanders' claim "a lie".

President Trump had been giving his response to the mid-term elections, which saw his Republican party lose control of the lower house of Congress but gain seats in the upper house.

What happened at the news conference?

During a question-and-answer session, Mr Acosta challenged Mr Trump's use of the word "invasion" to describe a migrant caravan heading to the US from Central America. He also challenged him over an anti-immigration advert that was widely seen as racist.

When Mr Acosta tried to ask a question about the Russia investigation into alleged interference in the 2016 presidential campaign, Mr Trump told him repeatedly "that's enough" and "put down the mic".

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Media captionTrump v Acosta

A female staff member attempted to take the microphone from the journalist, and Mr Acosta resisted handing it over telling her at one point "pardon me ma'am".

Mr Trump walked away from the podium and returned to say: "CNN should be ashamed of itself having you working for them. You are a rude, terrible person." He added: "The way you treat Sarah Huckerbee is horrible," without explaining why.

Another journalist spoke up in Mr Acosta's defence, calling him a "diligent reporter". Mr Trump fired back, "well I'm not a big fan of yours either," sparking laughter from members of the audience.

What did the White House say?

Ms Sanders, in a statement posted in a Twitter thread, said the White House would "never tolerate a reporter placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job".

"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," she said.

"As a result of today's incident, the White House is suspending the hard pass of the reporter involved until further notice."

The press secretary later shared a zoomed in clip of the incident, which observers say is a doctored video originally posted by right-wing conspiracy theorist Paul Joseph Watson.

Mr Acosta posted a tweet saying he was stopped by the Secret Service from entering White House grounds.

Skip Twitter post by @Acosta

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

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End of Twitter post by @Acosta

What did Acosta and CNN say?

Mr Acosta told CNN that he had been asking a question Mr Trump did not like which had led to a "back and forth" between them. He denied laying his hands on the woman, saying: "I was trying to hang on to the microphone so I could continue to ask the president questions."

"We all try to be professionals over there, and I think I handled myself professionally," he said, adding that he thinks, "this is a test for all of us. I do think they are trying to shut us down to some extent inside the White House press corps, and to some extent I think they are trying to send a message to our colleagues."

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Jim Acosta has been in the White House press corps for five years

CNN issued a statement on Twitter saying the ban was "in retaliation for [Jim Acosta's] challenging questions".

"In an explanation, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders lied," it said. "She provided fraudulent accusations and cited an incident that never happened."

And other reaction?

The White House Correspondents' Association, which represents the press corps at the presidential residence, urged the administration to reverse "this weak and misguided action".

"Such interactions [between reporter and president] however uncomfortable they may appear to be, help define the strength of our national institutions," the association said.

Other members of the White House press corps have also come to Mr Acosta's defence.

Jeff Mason of Reuters posted pictures of the incident:

Skip Twitter post by @jeffmason1

I was seated next to ?@Acosta? at today’s press conference and did not witness him “placing his hands” on the young intern, as the White House alleges. He held on to the microphone as she reached for it. The ?@Reuters? pictures below depict what happened accurately. pic.twitter.com/nO68Hf4eQM

— Jeff Mason (@jeffmason1) November 8, 2018

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End of Twitter post by @jeffmason1

New York Times' Peter Baker said he had been covering the White House since 1996 and had never known a reporter lose their credentials in this way.

Skip Twitter post by @peterbakernyt

If this is a decision by the White House because it doesn't like the coverage, it's the first time I can remember this happening to any reporter since I started covering the White House more than 22 years ago. Very bad sign. https://t.co/VNPDua0dZn

— Peter Baker (@peterbakernyt) November 8, 2018

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End of Twitter post by @peterbakernyt

The BBC's North America Editor Jon Sopel also reacted:

Skip Twitter post by @BBCJonSopel

This is dumb. And disproportionate. @acosta may be royal pain in ass – but that’s our job. We’re not sent to ask easy questions. But can’t help feeling this is a shiny object thrown for the media to chase when far more important things are happening. https://t.co/tAlcg2FqR1

— Jon Sopel (@BBCJonSopel) November 8, 2018

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End of Twitter post by @BBCJonSopel

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