CNN: White House's move to pull Acosta's press pass was based on 'fraudulent accusations'

CNN on Wednesday night slammed the White House for pulling the press credentials for its chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, accusing White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders of making "fraudulent accusations." 

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The statement from the news network came just moments after the Trump administration announced that it had suspended Acosta's press credentials, claiming that Acosta became physical with a young female intern during his exchange with President TrumpDonald John TrumpAvenatti ‘still considering’ presidential run despite domestic violence arrest Mulvaney positioning himself to be Commerce Secretary: report Kasich: Wouldn’t want presidential run to ‘diminish my voice’ MORE.

Sanders cited Acosta's refusal to hand a microphone to a young staffer who tried to take it from him as he asked a question of the president. She claimed that Acosta's conduct was unacceptable.  

"Press Secretary Sarah Sanders lied," CNN said in a statement. "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."

Trump held a news conference on Wednesday to discuss Tuesday's midterm elections, among other things. During a question-and-answer period, the president became visibly frustrated with Acosta's questioning about a migrant caravan.

“OK, that's enough,” Trump interrupted, as Acosta attempted to ask another question.

He went on to call Acosta “a rude, terrible person” and said “CNN should be ashamed of itself having you working for them.”

Footage of Acosta and the president's interaction shows a White House intern trying to take a microphone from the reporter, which the CNN reporter initially refused to give up. Acosta's hand appeared to brush the intern's arm during the exchange.

“We will never tolerate a reporter placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern,” Sanders said.

Acosta, in a tweet, called Sanders’s claim a lie. 

White House Correspondents' Association President Olivier Knox called the decision “out of line to the purported offense and is unacceptable.”

“We urge the White House to immediately reverse this weak and misguided action,” added Knox. “We encourage anyone with doubts that this reaction was disproportionate to the perceived offense to view the video of the events from earlier today.”

Earlier on Wednesday, CNN rebuked the president for his attacks against Acosta, calling them “disturbingly un-American.”

After facing scrutiny, Sanders defended the White House's decision in a tweet featuring video of Acosta's interaction with the intern.

"We stand by our decision to revoke this individual’s hard pass," Sanders said. "We will not tolerate the inappropriate behavior clearly documented in this video."

The video that accompanies the tweet focuses in on Acosta as he refuses to let go of the microphone.

Trump has repeatedly lashed out at the news network over its coverage of him, often calling it “fake news” and the “enemy of the people.” Chants of "CNN sucks" regularly break out at the president's rallies among his supporters.

Trump, late last month, also rejected calls to temper his rhetoric after a series of mail bombs were sent to prominent Democratic figures and CNN's New York office.

-- Updated at 10:43 p.m.