Jim Acosta: Trump has 'normalized and sanitized nastiness and cruelty'

CNN's Jim Acosta said Monday that President TrumpDonald TrumpFormer chairman of Wisconsin GOP party signals he will comply with Jan. 6 committee subpoena Overnight Defense & National Security — Pentagon tells Russia to stand down Billionaire GOP donor maxed out to Manchin following his Build Back Better opposition MORE has "normalized and sanitized nastiness and cruelty" in the U.S.

Speaking at a political conference hosted by CNN, the White House correspondent said that during a rally last week in Montana, a Trump supporter "was doing these body slam moves" and made a throat-slitting gesture at Acosta. Acosta said he spoke to the man after the event and said the man laughed about the incident.

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“I guess he wasn’t serious about it, but to me that’s the Trump effect on America. It has normalized and sanitized nastiness and cruelty in a way that I just never thought I would see," Acosta said.

Acosta tweeted after the Montana rally, in which Trump praised a GOP lawmaker who assaulted a reporter, that a young man "looked at me and ran his thumb across his throat."

"I never thought I would see the day where I would go to a political rally … at rally after rally after rally, have the president of the United States whip people up into a frenzy and attack the press. That, to me, is the most depressing thing that I’ve ever witnessed as a journalist," said Acosta, who has been an outspoken critic of Trump's rhetoric against the media.

"And it’s not so much that the president is doing it, it is that you have thousands and thousands of people who are willing to join in and do the same thing," he added.

Trump has labeled the press as "the enemy of the people" and has frequently dismissed negative reports about him as "fake news." He has been particularly critical of CNN. 

In August, Acosta clashed during a press briefing with White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who repeatedly refused to say the press was not the enemy of the people, as Trump has repeatedly alleged.