The White House on Wednesday faced swift backlash after it announced its suspension of CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta's press credentials following an extended verbal confrontation between Acosta and President TrumpDonald TrumpTexas announces election audit in four counties after Trump demand Schumer sets Monday showdown on debt ceiling-government funding bill Pennsylvania AG sues to block GOP subpoenas in election probe MORE earlier that afternoon.
In a statement Wednesday night, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders claimed Acosta "[placed] his hands on" a young female White House intern who attempted to take a microphone from him.
“We will ... 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," said Sanders. "As a result of today’s incident, the White House is suspending the hard pass of the reporter involved until further notice."
Acosta also took to Twitter to call Sanders's assertion that he put his hands on the intern, "a lie."
This is a lie. https://t.co/FastFfWych— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) November 7, 2018
Twitter users, including many journalists, were quick to challenge Sanders's claim that Acosta had touched the intern, slamming the White House's decision to yank the reporter's press credentials.
This is not what happened. You could have banned him simply for refusing to abide by any of the normal rules of the press room. No need to state something happened that didn’t. https://t.co/p9hgtVE8eZ— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) November 7, 2018
I sat next to Acosta at the press conference today. The White House intern came to take the microphone to the next reporter called on for a question, and Acosta, right or wrong, refused to give it to her when she reached out to grab it. https://t.co/ZHi7sbEKUf— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) November 7, 2018
This is video of the White House intern attempting to wrench the mic away from @Acosta. He is not “placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job,” as @PressSec claimed. Suspending his pass over this is a blatant abuse of presidential power. pic.twitter.com/zSmIQF0xKv
— Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) November 7, 2018
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 7, 2018
News the White House pulled Jim @Acosta’s credentials is not an attack on one journalist but all of the press. There should be complete solidarity. This is a moment for any Republican who says they believe in the Constitution to stand up.— Dan Rather (@DanRather) November 7, 2018
The free press has been around for centuries. What changed in the last 2 years was the emergence of a leader openly hostile to a free press.— David Jolly (@DavidJollyFL) November 7, 2018
If you're blaming Acosta, you're part of this shameful attack on a freedom that belongs not to the press itself, but to us as a people. https://t.co/h6VUebYKNT
To be clear, several things can be true:— Jamie Weinstein (@Jamie_Weinstein) November 7, 2018
1) Acosta is sometimes a grandstander
2) He didnt attack the female intern
3) His press pass shouldnt be revoked
4) It's laughable the press secretary for this president pretends this WH cares about people putting their hands on women
I don't think Acosta's actions today were as horrible as people are making out, but his insufferable grandstanding and nonsensical Qs are selfserving. CNN employs journalists who can ask tough questions w/o making the story about them.— David Harsanyi (@davidharsanyi) November 7, 2018
Acosta was rude to Trump and disrespectful to the WH staffer, but he didn’t assault anyone. I don’t think his actions warrant credentials being suspended, but it’s hard to have sympathy for a man who was basically asking for it.— Sara Gonzales (@SaraGonzalesTX) November 7, 2018
Well. She could have been carrying a pen. I hear those are very dangerous. https://t.co/IGIYxEMexc— Michelle Fields (@MichelleFields) November 7, 2018
CNN said in a statement that Acosta “has our full support” and backed up Acosta's statement that Sanders “lied” in her “fraudulent” explanation by citing an incident “that never happened.”