The White House on Thursday defended its ban of CNN correspondent Jim Acosta from the building, claiming he made inappropriate contact with an administration assistant while she was trying to take a microphone away from him during a heated exchange with President Donald Trump at a news conference.
Trump called Acosta a “rude, terrible person” and an “enemy of the people” at Wednesday’s post-election question-and-answer session with reporters. Acosta asked the U.S. leader about his claim that Central American migrants walking through Mexico toward the southern U.S. border were “invading” the country.
Hours later, press secretary Sarah Sanders suspended Acosta’s White House press credentials, accusing Acosta of inappropriately “placing his hands” on the assistant when she tried to take way the microphone.
“This is a lie,” Acosta responded.
On Thursday, Sanders tweeted a video purportedly backing up her version of the events. But analysts and other journalists pointed out that the video appeared to have been manipulated, sped up to make it look as if Acosta was striking the woman.
In response, Sanders said the White House ban on Acosta’s credentials would stand.
“The question is: Did the reporter make contact or not? The video is clear. He did. We stand by our statement,” Sanders said.
CNN and other White House reporters defended Acosta, saying there was nothing wrong with his questioning of Trump and that he did not inappropriately touch the assistant.
CNN accused Sanders of lying about the incident.
“She provided fraudulent accusations and cited an incident that never happened,” the network said. “This unprecedented decision is a threat to our democracy, and the country deserves better. Jim Acosta has our full support.”
The White House Correspondents’ Association said it “strongly objects to the Trump administration’s decision to use U.S. Secret Service security credentials as a tool to punish a reporter with whom it has a difficult relationship.”