White House Correspondents' Association President Olivier Knox on Wednesday slammed the White House over its decision to revoke the press credentials of CNN's Jim Acosta, calling it "a reaction out of line to the purported offense."
In a statement, Knox also called on the White House to "immediately reverse this weak and misguided action."
"Journalists may use a range of approaches to carry out their jobs and the WHCA does not police the tone or frequency of the questions its members ask of powerful senior government officials, including the President," he wrote. "Such interactions, however uncomfortable they may appear to be, help define the strength of our national institutions. We urge the White House to immediately reverse this weak and misguided action."
The White House late Wednesday announced that it had suspended Acosta's press credentials, claiming that he became physical with a young female intern during a testy back-and-forth between Acosta and President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump lawyers to Supreme Court: Jan. 6 committee 'will not be harmed by delay' Two House Democrats announce they won't seek reelection DiCaprio on climate change: 'Vote for people that are sane' MORE at a press briefing earlier that day.
As Acosta attempted to ask a question about a migrant caravan heading north to the U.S. through Central America, Trump interrupted him, saying, “OK, that's enough.”
A young female White House intern then approached Acosta and tried to take the microphone out of his hand. He refused to give it away, saying "pardon me, ma'am," and continuing to attempt to ask his question. Acosta's hand appeared to brush the intern's arm during the exchange.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued a statement later Wednesday, stating, “President Trump believes in a free press and expects and welcomes tough questions of him and his administration. We will, however, 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.”
Acosta and CNN have denounced the White House's claim and accused Sanders of lying about Acosta's interaction with the female intern.
"This is a lie," Acosta tweeted in response to Sanders's claim.
In a statement, CNN called the White House's claim that Acosta placed his hands on the intern "fraudulent accusations."
"Press Secretary Sarah Sanders lied," CNN said. "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."