The White House said Tuesday it would “look into” an incident earlier in the day where the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) barred reporters from entering an agency hearing.
“Certainly we’ll look into the matter. I know EPA has put out a statement, at this point I’d refer you to them as we look into the incident,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said during Tuesday's press briefing.
"I can’t speak to a situation I don’t have a lot of visibility into," she added.
Sanders was pressed later in the briefing on whether she felt it would ever be acceptable to physically turn away reporters, as the EPA did to one journalist.
“I’m not going to weigh into random hypotheticals that may or may not exist,” she said. “I don’t know any information about this specific incident. You’re asking me to speak to blanket possibilities, which I’m not going to do.”
Sarah Sanders after being asked about forcibly removing reporters: "I'm not going to weigh into random hypotheticals that may or may not exist" pic.twitter.com/VeyEz3yQvq— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) May 22, 2018
The EPA sparked an outcry earlier Tuesday after it blocked reporters from certain media outlets from entering a hearing on chemicals linked to cancer.
While a handful of reporters, including one from The Hill, were allowed inside, journalists from CNN, E&E News and The Associated Press all tweeted that they were told they could not enter the event.
The AP later reported that guards blocked their reporter from the entrance and grabbed the reporter by her shoulders to remove her from the building after she asked to speak to an EPA public affairs spokesperson.
The decision sparked a furor, and the EPA eventually allowed all reporters to cover the second half of the summit.
The Trump administration has faced criticism for its treatment of the press, which the president often deems "fake news." Sanders has said the administration is committed to a free press, despite suggestions from Trump that reporters lose their credentials for publishing negative reports.